December 2, 2008
KIKO TO NEW PEACE PANEL CHIEF: DECLARE CEASEFIRE, RETURN TO NEGOTIATING TABLE ASAP
Independent senator Kiko Pangilinan today challenged government to declare an immediate ceasefire and resume talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front following the appointment of a new peace panel chief.
“With the appointment of a new head for the peace panel, we hope that the government will take a different route in solving the problem in Mindanao. We have seen how secrecy and legally questionable acts can add up to the tension, as with what happened to the ill-fated GRP-MILF Peacepact; thus the challenge is to engage the MILF in firm and accountable terms,” Kiko said.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, a veteran diplomat known for his work for the release of the two Filipino hostages from insurgents in Iraq, will replace Hermogenes Esperon as representative to the Malaysian-brokered talks with the MILF.
“The Filipino nation is paying such a high price for this war to continue. We have learned that Mindanao residents are united in wanting to end the war. It is high time we resume peace talks. The progress and development in Davao City, General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro City in the mid-90s was ushered in by aggressive and resolute peace negotiations. With comprehensive peace initiatives and a Mindanao economic stimulus package, the cities of Zamboanga, Marawi, Iligan, Digos and Marbel can likewise join Davao, GenSan and CDO as progressive urban centers in Mindanao. There can be no economic progress without peace and stability,” Kiko added.
“Peace is the only way to go. We should revive negotiations. Let us not give up on Mindanao. This is not the kind of legacy we should leave generations of Filipinos to come,” Kiko ended.###