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Aquino says he remains optimistic about peace talks with MILF

(Xinhua)

09:01, August 30, 2011

MANILA, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III remains optimistic about the peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"It is only normal in negotiations for the parties involved to agree and disagree during discussions and debate on proposals," Aquino said in an interview over Radio Mindanao Network that was aired on Monday.

The President assured that whatever agreement reached during the talks would be made public and a final peace accord would be subject to a plebiscite.

The government would not be dictating or forcing anyone to uphold or reject whatever agreement reached by the GPH and MILF panels, he added.

On the issue of Commander Ameril Umbra Kato, who took about 300 followers with him as he broke away from the MILF and formed his own group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the President is banking on the MILF's annoucement that they would resolve the issue.

The MILF during the meeting of the two panels in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last week asked the Philippine government to give them 10 days after the Eid'l Fitr celebration to address the problem with Kato. The month-long Ramadan ends on Aug. 30 which marks the Eid'l Fitr.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chairman, admitted that Kato remains a "challenge for the MILF," adding that the commander has initially been declared a "bougat or one who defies or does not obey an order."

MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar and MILF spokesman Von Al Haq earlier said the central committee is already studying a proposed resolution declaring Kato and his men a renegade group, which Kato had shrugged off claiming that they are breaking away and pursuing their own campaign for the independence of the Bangsamoro people.

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