U.S. belies links to GRP-MILF talks

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE United States government belied any links to the negotiation between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and the Philippine government notably the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

Thus stressed U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the Philippines Jon Lindborg.

This developed as Malacañang junked signing its draft agreement with the MILF, according to Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera.

Devanadera said during the resumption of oral arguments at the Supreme Court on the issue, the government has decided to abandon signing the draft agreement, pointing out it will no longer pursue the draft agreement regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the petition questioning the pact’s constitutionality.

She told the Supreme Court magistrates that she received a letter from Malacañang saying the government will not sign the MOA no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

She also said that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita had phoned her that the government will not sign the MOA in its present form and in any other form.

Devanadera also clarified the MOA would no longer be pursued but not the peace process with the MILF.

Also, Lindborg reassured its full support to the peace efforts of the Philippine government in Mindanao with the MILF.

He said the U.S. government would support the peaceful settlement of the problem between the Philippine government and the MILF.

Lindborg stressed that the U.S. government has nothing to do with the negotiation since it is only between the Moro rebels and the Philippine government.

He assured that the U.S. government would always support peace and development efforts which contribute to an environment that helps peace grow in the country.

Lindborg represented U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney for the opening of the 17th Mindanao Business Conference.

Earlier, Mindanao political leaders requested the Supreme Court to stop the Philippine government and the MILF from signing the MOA, saying that it violates some provisions of the Constitution especially the ancestral domain provision.

The government and rebel peace negotiators agreed on the ancestral domain, which was viewed as a breakthrough in the seven-year-old peace talks aimed at putting an end to more than four decades of bloody fighting in Mindanao.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even endorsed the postponement of the Aug. 11 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the peace talks to succeed.

Malacañang also said it would propose to amend the Constitution to allow plebiscite on areas under the ancestral domain that would make up the so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity and give Muslims their own homeland.

The MILF previously said it will not sign any peace deal with the Arroyo government unless its demand for self-determination is granted.

Last year, peace talks were also stalled after government negotiators reneged on the same deal.