The peace talks, albeit informal, have resumed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the presidential adviser on the peace process said on Thursday.
Secretary Teresita Deles, the peace adviser, said the talks were expected to take up “crucial issues” arising from the clash last month between government and MILF forces in Al-Barka, Basilan.
The encounter happened despite a cease-fire agreement between the two sides killed 19 soldiers and triggered calls for an all-out war against the Moro rebels.
Deles said the talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were scheduled only for Thursday.
“It is an informal meeting which was originally agreed upon to discuss how to move substantive negotiations forward following the submission of the GPH (Philippine government) proposal to the MILF,” Deles said in a text message.
“In light of the crucial issues arising from the Al-Barka incident, we also expect important matters to be discussed,” she added.
In an earlier interview over government radio dzRB, Deles expressed confidence that the informal talks would push through in early November.
“Because of what happened in Al-Barka, when the two panels meet, they will discuss what should be done so that those that need accountability would be taken to account and so that a similar incident would no longer happen,” Deles said.
Deles said the talks would be informal in the wake of the facilitation that Malaysia had been conducting after both sides rejected each other’s proposed peace agreements.
Continue pursuing peace
In Malacañang Thursday, Undersecretary Abigail Valte, President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, said Mr. Aquino had told the peace panel to continue pursuing peace with the MILF.
Asked if the government panel would ask the other side to cooperate in the hunt for lawless elements in Mindanao, Valte said, “Yes, the President already said in his statement last week to cooperate.”
“(And) that they have been informed that the MILF is not being targeted as an entity. Rather, this is a law enforcement operation to pursue lawless elements,” she said.