By Joe Torres
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended exploratory peace talks in Malaysia yesterday with both sides expressing satisfaction with the progress of the discussions.
“The parties acknowledge the need to explore creative approaches that will address the political, legal and other dimensions of the problems,” said a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting.
Marvic Leonen, the government chief negotiator, said the peace process with the rebels “has moved forward.”
He also expressed optimism that the government will achieve its stated aim of signing an agreement with the rebels this year.
“We always believe that it is always possible to find solutions to a problem, review it, adjust and later on achieve the kind of peace that is permanent, that is founded on justice for all,” Leonen added.
Mohager Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, said the talks “have been very emotional.”
Both sides said they recognize the challenges that have yet to be resolved in finding a political solution to the armed conflict in the southern Philippines.
Ghafar Mohamed, the Malaysian third party facilitator of the talks, lauded the government and the MILF for the progress in the negotiations.
“Both sides agree that there are constraints and both agree to resolve these constraints,” he said.