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03/09/2008: Statement of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed a new paradigm on the peace process by mandating that, henceforth, peace negotiations shall be refocused from one that is centered on dialogue with rebels to one of authentic dialogues with the communities and stakeholders who will formulate and determine, together with government, the enhanced road map for the peace process. Any negotiation with armed groups will be in the context of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).

Underlying all this is the adherence to the rule of law, primacy of the Philippine Constitution and the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity.

Consequently, the President has ordered that the government peace panel for talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) be dissolved to re-align all the peace initiatives in accordance with the new policy. All the other existing peace efforts with other armed groups are likewise directed to proceed in accordance with this directive.

In pursuance thereto, the President has directed the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to carry out a thorough review of all peace initiatives. Covered by this review are the GRP-MILF peace talks, the stalled peace negotiations with CPP-NPA-NDF, the implementation of the GRP-MNLF peace agreement of 1996, the status of past GRP-MILF interim Agreements, the implementation of the GRP-RPM-ABB Agreement and the GRP-CPLA Agreement of 1986 and applicable provisions of RA 9054. Results of such review will be the bases of an enhanced and new roadmap on the Peace Process to be submitted to the President, through the Executive Secretary for consideration and approval. This reiterates the President’s guidance contained in the Memorandum of Instruction issued on 2 Sept. 2003 to the GRP Peace Panel.

In the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, and in connection with the on-going law enforcement campaign against lawless MILF groups that attacked our civilian communities recently, the President has directed that the highest respect for our Muslim brothers and sisters be afforded them during the month of Ramadhan and utmost consideration be given by our law enforcement agencies to the unhampered observance of the tradition by peace-loving Mindanaoans.

The President has also directed that massive relief and rehabilitation efforts be undertaken by the government agencies, with the assistance of private sector groups and the donor community, to address the needs of our Mindanao residents who are adversely affected by the ongoing law enforcement campaign to neutralize and bring to the folds of the law the MILF lawless groups who attacked on the civilian communities. The President is confident that Mindanaoans will be one with government in addressing this and helping in putting to an end the vicious cycle of violence and poverty in some parts of Mindanao.