Senators cite Aquino-Ibrahim meet

August 6, 2011

Mario B. Casayuran
Manila Bulletin
August 6, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Senators said Saturday the secret meeting between President Benigno S. Aquino III and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim in Tokyo last Thursday might yet lead to the resolution of the decades-old secessionist conflict that had shed blood and finally bring peace to troubled Southern Philippines.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, said the meeting ‘’on the highest level on both sides has planted the trust and good faith necessary for the peace process to prosper.’’ ‘’This can only auger well,”she added

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a political ally of President Aquino, gave this assessment after Marvic Leonen, chair of the government peace panel, revealed that the meeting took place in Tokyo, Japan, as agreed by both parties.

The meeting was supposed to be the first for a Philippine President to meet with the chairman of the MILF in 14 years.

“We welcome this move, as it is a clear signal by no less than the Commander-in-Chief that we are serious in our pursuit of peace,” Pangilinan said.

“It is an out-of-the box solution and shows that the President is willing to step out of his own comfort zone to ensure that peace can be achieved,’’ he added.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV have expressed support to the Mindanao peace process meeting.

But Sen. Francis”Chiz“Escudero thinks the President could have been ‘’ill-advised.”

“Our country has been beset by conflict for over four decades.”

A statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan said that the secret meeting’s host government “heartily welcomes” that the meeting became a meaningful opportunity for smoothly proceeding with the Mindanao Peace Process.

“This was the first time that the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the Chair of MILF hold a meeting. The Government of Japan supported the holding of the meeting as requested by the Government of the Philippines to
hold it in Japan,” the Ministry said.

Basilan bishop Martin Jumoad has called on President Aquino to be transparent on the Mindanao peace process.

Palace lashed back at critics who have nothing good to say on the peace process, saying that they should look at what good it will do to the peace talks rather than just looking at the peripherals. (With reports from Madel Sabater,
Ellson Quismorio, Rolly Carandang, Mick Basa and Leslie Ann Aquino)

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