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PIA Press Release
2006/09/28

RP rejects MILF demand on expanded autonomous region

Quezon City (28 September) -- THE PHILIPPINE government rejected on a rebel group's demands to expand a Muslim autonomous region without holding a referendum, a senior official said, raising prospects of a prolonged impasse in peace talks.

The government remains firm in its position that the region cannot be expanded unless residents in affected areas approve the move in a plebiscite, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

"We will stand pat on our position that we must follow the constitutional process," Ermita told reporters a day after government negotiators and Cabinet security officials agreed on the position.

"The bottom line is we cannot do anything unless it's within our constitution," he said. "We have to find out how the peace process will progress."

Asked whether the government is prepared to go back to war if the talks collapse, Ermita said: "Let's put it this way: Nobody can scare the government on anything. We are the government. We have the armed force, we have the armed services, we have the police. But we will do everything to move on with our peace process." (PIA) [top]

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