The Philippine government over the past few years has been attempting to negotiate with Muslim insurgents in an effort to resolve problems with its Islamic citizens. President Gloria Arroyo announced yesterday she was dissolving the government peace panel which has been seeking to end the Muslim rebellion in southern Mindanao. Filipino officials made clear the president was ending negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MLF). “the president has ordered that the government peace panel for talks with the MLF be dissolved.” The MLF assumes ending the peace panel means the government will now focus on military action in order to achieve its goals of controlling Mindanao.
A key issue in the decision to dissolve the peace panel centers around an earlier agreement President Arroyo signed that would have turned control of Muslim areas over to the MLF. Some MLF forces attacked troops and killed about 100 which has infuriated the nation. It is still uncertain whether the president is merely using the time period to send more troops into the area or whether there will be a redesigned effort for peaceful negotiations. A major complaint has been failure on the part of Arroyo to involve local leaders and members of the Philippine legislature in the entire peace process.