MANILA, Philippines - The government is asking representatives from foreign countries to extend their stay in Mindanao for another 3 months to prevent any outbreak of hostilities between its soldiers and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In a press release, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles said the Department of Foreign Affairs has already sent notes verbales to country-members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to extend their tour of duty.
The IMT monitors the ceasefire, socio-economic and humanitarian agreements between the government and the MILF.
Its one-year mandate, covered by the Terms of Reference signed in Kuala Lumpur, is about to end.
The IMT is headed by Malaysia, which has 20 delegates. Brunei and Libya, with 15 and 3 members respectively, heads the security component.
Japan, which has 2 representatives, monitors the socio-economic development level.
Early this year, the European Union and Norway accepted invitations to join the IMT.
“Reciprocity and a stable environment on the ground make the environment conducive to resuming the talks, which we expect to start very soon,” Deles said.
She is confident that the MILF will support this request for an extension of the IMT’s term.
The number of armed skirmishes in Mindanao has gone down significantly after a major conflict incident in August 2008.
Several groups launched armed attacks because of the scrapping of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.