MILF nothing to worry as Philippine gov't serious in peace talks: official

13:14, July 26, 2011      

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A senior Philippine government official on Tuesday told leaders of separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that they have no reason to worry about the developments of the ongoing peace talks, even though it was not mentioned in President Aquino's second State of the Nation Address Monday.

Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, made the pronouncement after the rebels expressed their disappointment Monday as President Aquino did not mention clear policy on how to resolve decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

"The President is serious in the negotiation and people will see that in the coming days. The President has something to emphasize in the talks," Deles said by phone.

"He (President) is even giving much attention. The peace talk is on his agenda. The MILF has nothing to worry," she added.

But MILF chief negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal said it's still better if the President mention his platform for peace in Mindanao.

"I don't know the reason but there's a delay in the negotiation. Only the government knows," he added.

Iqbal earlier said that in President Aquino's 55-minute report, there was no strategy mentioned on how to end rebellion problem in Mindanao.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF collapsed in August 2008 after the two sides failed to sign a territory agreement as scheduled, prompting some radical rebels to launch deadly attacks on Christian communities in the region.

The attacks prompted government to suspend the negotiation with the MILF and ordered a massive assault after a senior Moro rebel commander named Ameril Ombra Kato, who was blamed for the 2008 attacks that left 60 civilians dead in several central Mindanao towns, formed a new armed group last February.

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