US Participation in Peace Negotiations Proposed; in the Event Malaysia Pulls out of International Monitoring Team

Article excerpt

Byline: EDD K. USMAN

If Malaysia really pulls its contingent out of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) that watches the enforcement of the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), this development would open the door for participation of the United States in the Mindanao peace process, former Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Roy V. Seneres said the other day.

Seneres, a Mindanaoan and former National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) chairman, told the Manila Bulletin that he prefers seeing the US helping out in the efforts to attain peace in Southern Philippines.

"With its influence and power, no one in the Philippines would dare go against the US. These influence and power can be harnessed in a positive way for the attainment of peace through major US participation in the Mindanao peace process," he said.

Seneres said the US can be a truly neutral force in the negotiation, and at the same time it can use its immense resources and clout to help see to it that any final peace agreement the Philippine government and the MILF signs can be implemented fully.

"Personally, I would even welcome an American base in Mindanao," Seneres said.

Reached through a mobile phone call, MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar said Malaysia, since last year, has already bared its plans to pull out of IMT due to the slow progress in the talks that started in January 1997.

"The Malaysian government has made this clear even last year if the Mindanao peace process will not show any significant progress," Jaafar said.

Jaafar said the MILF welcomes the US assistance through its peace and economic projects in Mindanao, but he declined to comment on the proposed US active participation in the peace process.

"There is no formal proposal on this, besides any decision must be done in conjunction with facilitator Malaysia and the Philippine government," the MILF official said. …