The Philippine government has no intention of dropping Malaysia as facilitator of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) despite the armed conflict in Sabah, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda maintained that Malaysia will continue to broker the peace talks especially since the concerned parties are already finalizing the peace agreement that seek to end decades-old insurgency in the south.
"We have not heard any news that we will change the facilitator. So far, there was a recent meeting wherein Malaysia is still the facilitator," Lacierda said in Filipino over DZRH.
After the preliminary peace pact on the creation of the Bangsamoro region was forged by the two parties last year, Lacierda said the government and MILF negotiators are crafting the remaining annexes on wealth-sharing and normalization.
Once these issues are resolved, the government has expressed optimism that a comprehensive peace agreement with the MILF will be finalized next month.
President Aquino earlier announced that Malaysia has not signified any plan to withdraw from the Mindanao peace process despite the deadly standoff between the supporters of Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian troops in Sabah.
Amid security problems caused by common borders, Aquino said Malaysia will also benefit from just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
"They did not say they will no longer help in our peace process,” the President said in allaying concerns that the peace talks with the MILF are now in peril due to the tension in Sabah.
The President acknowledged that Philippines owed Malaysia a debt of gratitude since it is facilitating the peace talks with the MILF. He has also ruled out waging a war with Malaysia over the pursuit of a territorial claim to Sabah, saying the matter can be discussed without violence.
“Let us show that we can be trusted and counted on by our neighbors that we are responsible and ready to implement what we agreed on,” the President said.