Despite government efforts to come to a peaceful settlement with the group.
From AKI (thanks to Sr. Soph):
Manila, 11 Jan. (AKI) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Philippines” largest Muslim rebel group (photo), has announced it is ready for war, if attacked.
The statement, made by Eid Kabalu, MILF military spokesman, is a response to a recent comment by interior and local government secretary Ronaldo Puno threatening to stop talks with the MILF.
“We are open to all possibilities. We have the right to defend ourselves in our homeland,” Kabalu said, quoted by daily The Sun Star”on Friday. However, he asserted that war was the last resort.
A day earlier, the MILF official website, Luwaran, cited Puno as saying: “If the MILF doesn’t want our agreement, if they do not want to respect our Constitution, then let us stop negotiating and just continue with the war.”
The rising tension follows the latest stumbling block that has, at least temporarily, halted peace talks between the two sides.
In December, the MILF negotiating panel in Kuala Lumpur, for a round of consultations, refused to meet their government’s counterparts after they were presented a draft of a proposed memorandum of agreement that omitted most of the “˜consensus points” on a homeland or ‘ancestral domain’ that two sides had previously agreed on.
The consensus points — first agreed in October 2004 – allegedly include the boundaries of a new Muslim controlled homeland, its maritime borders and details of natural resource sharing with the central government.
Manila’s condition that any agreement is implemented via constitutional means – meaning a referendum – especially angered the MILF….
Perhaps indicating that they have little popular support.