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PIA Press Release

Arroyo ‘willing to grant’ MILF demands - Bunye

NANNING, China (30 October/UPDATE) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Monday she is “willing to grant” the demands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the issue of ancestral domain and asked Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to convey this to the separatist rebels.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said Arroyo gave her message to Badawi, whose help she has sought to help restart peace talks with the MILF, during a bilateral meeting ahead of the China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) commemorative summit here.

Malaysia is the third-party negotiator between the Philippine government and the MILF. Peace talks bogged down in September after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on the number of Muslim villages to be covered by ancestral domain.

However, Bunye added that any concessions to the MILF "should be done within the framework of the Constitution."

"The President mentioned the current status [of the peace talks and how] we have stalled on some territorial issue, again…the President mentioned that we are willing to provide, we are willing to grant this," Bunye said.

"But this should be done within the framework of the Constitution. The President hoped that this would be properly conveyed to the other side," Bunye added.

Responding to Arroyo's request, Bunye said Badawi said he was "as eager as everybody to move the talks forward."

"He [Badawi] said that we will do whatever we can to keep the talks moving forward," Bunye said.

Bunye said Arroyo also asked Badawi to keep Malaysian ceasefire monitors in the southern Philippines, which she said was "instrumental in maintaining peace on the ground."

"We got the sense that the IMT [International Monitoring Team] will be there [in Mindanao] for a very long time," Bunye said. (PIA) [top]

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