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MILF laughs off idea of Pacquiao as peace envoy


PhilBoxing.com




GENERAL SANTOS CITY ? Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chair Ghazali Jaafar on Wednesday laugh off suggestions to have boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao as member of the government peace panel in its negotiations with the Moro rebel group.

"What for? What can he do?" Jaafar said in a mobile phone interview.

Pacquiao's name was floated by Augusto Miclat, executive director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue, during a peace conference held in Manila Monday.

Herbert Docena, a research-associate of think-tank, Focus on the Global South, also said the popular support given by the Filipino people to Pacquiao in his fight against the bigger Oscar de la Hoya "can be tapped to support the peace process."

The Filipino boxing icon, fresh from a technical knockout victory over the golden boy of boxing arrived Wednesday dawn amid wild welcome.

Pacquiao is a technical sergeant in the Philippine Army reserved corps.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano, a personal friend of Pacquiao, declined to offer any comment on the suggestion.

"My comment is irrelevant. I am not (a member of) the selection committee," Yano said in a text message.

Jaafar however said it is the government's call to appoint any member of the latter's negotiating panel.

But he insisted that the new peace panel should have the mandate to negotiate and commit the government to any agreement.

"We can not afford a repeat of the failed MOA-AD where the government disowned its own negotiating panel," Jaafar explained.

He likewise doubt if Pacquiao has enough background and understanding of the complexities of the Mindanao conflict.

The government abolished its peace panel following the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in August (MOA-AD) and after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

The peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF has stalled following the abolition of the government peace panel.

On December 4, while visiting Mindanao, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo told Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez that she was still hoping the MILF will return to the negotiating table.

Getting back the MILF to agree to a new round of peace talks is however being blocked by the insistence of the government that any new negotiations should be based on disarmament, demobilization and re-integration (DDR).

However, the MILF has repeatedly said the DDR should follow after a comprehensive political settlement and not as a precondition to the resumption of the peace process.

The MILF has also insisted that future negotiations should center on the provisions of the MOA-AD.

The MOA-AD would have defined the scope and extent of the ancestral domain demanded by the MILF, a major contention of the Moro conflict in Mindanao.

Top photo: Members of the Moro International Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in southern Philippines.



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Edwin G. Espejo.


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