MANILA -- Malacanang urged all stakeholders, including Nur Misuari and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), to give the final peace settlement a chance.
In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said peace is “inclusive” and should thus embrace all stakeholders, most especially the MNLF.
“Ang nais po ng ating pamahalaan ay maging kalahok ang pinakamaraming stakeholders, ‘yun pong may mga taya sa katahimikan sa Mindanao, kasama pa rin naman diyan ‘yung ating mga kababayan na kasapi ng MNLF dahil doon sa mga naunang panahon sila ay nagsikap din na maitatag ang kapayapaan,” he said.
The Philippine government and Muslim rebels said Saturday they had cleared the last hurdle in long-running peace negotiations, paving the way for the end of a deadly decades-old insurgency in Mindanao.
President Benigno Aquino III hopes to secure a final peace settlement before leaving office in mid-2016 to end the rebellion by Muslim groups, which has left around 150,000 people dead.
Negotiators of both sides said Saturday marked the conclusion of years of peace talks ahead of the signing of a formal deal to seal their work.
However, MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza was quoted as saying that the accord would result in the realignment of forces in Mindanao.
Cerveza said he doubts the MILF fighters would just easily surrender their arms.
“Nasabi na po ang dapat sabihin tungkol diyan at ‘yon ‘yung pag-asa na ang pagbubuo ng kasunduan ay hahantong sa kapayapaan. Meron pong mga ibang elemento na hindi sumasang-ayon, ginagalang na lang po natin ‘yung hindi sumasang-ayon,” Coloma said.
Malacanang also believes the final peace agreement will be signed very soon.
Coloma noted that the next hurdle is the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, adding that he hopes the current Congress can finally pass the law, which would then pave the way for a plebiscite.
“Sa aking naaalala, ang timetable plan para sa plebisito ay makumpleto ito sa taong 2015, at agaran kasi o merong sense of urgency ‘yung bagay na ‘yan na pagkakaroon ng plebisito,” he said.
He said there should already be a Bangsamoro political entity by the end of Aquino’s term.
“‘Yung sa by 2016, hindi lamang po ‘yung pagpasa sa plebisito, pagkatapos kasi ‘non ang pinakahuling hakbang diyan ay ‘yung makapaghalal ng mga bagong opisyal ayon sa ilalim nitong batas na ito para nga mabuo na ‘yung minimithi na Bangsamoro political entity,” Coloma said. – with a report from Agence France-Presse