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 MILF Abandons Bid for Independent State

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PostSubject: MILF Abandons Bid for Independent State   Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:33 am

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the government peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday welcomed the pronouncement of the rebel group that it is no longer interested in demanding an independent state.

Dean Marvic Leonen, chief of the government panel negotiating a peace agreement with the MILF, said that the pronouncement made by MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal that the group is no longer interested in pushing for an independent state is a good sign that efforts by both parties of finding a lasting solution to the armed conflict in the southern part of the country are on the right track.

He added that the latest development will pave the way for the two parties “to finding an understanding for a politically feasible arrangement that maintains the territorial integrity and the fundamental premise of people's sovereignty in our Republic”.

Iqbal earlier said that instead of pushing for an independent state, they will be pushing for the establishment of a sub-state in Mindanao as part of the final peace agreement or comprehensive compact with the government.

Iqbal explained that under the sub-state, the Moro people will have control on all aspects, except on four areas of concern – foreign affairs, national defense, currency and coinage, as well as postal services.

Iqbal added that they are also dropping their bid for autonomy as there already the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which was was established as a result of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996.

Leonen, who was named by President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III as the Philippine government's chief negotiator with the MILF last July, also said that they are willing to sit down with their counterparts and listen to their proposals so that lasting peace in the south will finally be achieved after decades of fighting between government and MILF forces.

“We will listen to their (MILF) proposals and are willing to work with them to find a just, comprehensive and lasting peace,” he said.

Francis Wakefield, Manila Bulletin
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