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US still supports peace process between PH gov’t, MILF, says envoy

/ 05:42 PM February 26, 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The United States reiterated its continued support to the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) amid the public outrage generated by the deaths of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Kurt Hoyer, Press Attaché of the US Embassy in Manila, said “(t)he United States fully supports the ongoing peace and reconciliation process.”

The clash has put the Bangsamoro Basic Law in peril and the entire peace process hanging in the balance with various sectors calling for its scrapping.

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Hoyer said despite the tragedy, the government and the MILF should continue to find ways to achieve peace.

“We encourage all parties to continue their efforts to ensure a future of peace, prosperity, and stability in the southern Philippines,” Hoyer added.

On January 30, the US Embassy also said in a statement that the SAF 44 “fought with bravery and demonstrated their commitment to ensuring peace and order in their country.”

It also reiterated “support for the Philippine government’s efforts to combat international terrorism while promoting a just and lasting peaceful solution to the conflict in Mindanao.”

Earlier on January 27, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder wrote to inform Interior Secretary Mar Roxas that “Canada continues to encourage efforts to achieve peace and we remain committed to supporting the Bangsamoro peace process.”

“We support the diligent efforts of all sides to bring about an era of opportunities for the people of Mindanao,” Reeder said.

As this developed, civil society groups and the business sector Mindanao rallied behind Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles and government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer amid the calls for their resignation following the Mamasapano carnage.

Senator Allan Peter Cayetano and Muntinlupa lone district Rep. Rodolfo Biazon have called for the resignation of the two officials as they questioned their allegiance.

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“It is unwise proposition. All the more (that) we need them to finish what they have started to bring the peace process to fruition for the sake of sustainable peace in Mindanao,” Alih Aiyub, secretary-general of the National Ulama Conference, said in a statement.

Ali Yacub, president of the Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates, said Cayetano and Biazon’s call was baseless because Deles and Ferrer “have nothing to do with death of the fallen Philippine National Police officers.”

Vincent Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council, said finger-pointing and laying the blame should stop and give way to ongoing investigations into the Mamasapano gun battle.

“Let’s wait for the result before we start pointing fingers,” Lao said.

Edmund Gumbahali, president of the Sulu-based Panglima Hawani Foundation, said Deles and Ferrer were “prime movers” of the peace process with the MILF and that “they should complete their task.”

“In this modern times when the Philippines still grapples with internal armed conflict, Deles and Coronel-Ferrer are two women who are the new iron ladies in the country’s path towards peace in Mindanao,” Datu Alexander Mama-o, president of the Lanao-based Filipino Alliance for Integrity and Reform (Fair Movement-Philippines). Instead of calling for their heads, Deles and Ferrer should be commended for moving forward to find the elusive peace in Mindanao, he said.

“Unlike politicians, they have no personal ambitions. They are mothers sympathetic to the needs of the people, especially the children caught in conflict,” Mamao-o said.

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