Philippine rallies call for resumption of talks with Muslim rebels
More than 100,000 people gathered on Saturday in key cities in the southern Philippines, calling for the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations between the government and Muslim rebels.
Amirah Ali Lidasan, one of the organizers of the rallies, said people gathered in the cities of Marawi, Iligan, Cotabato, General Santos and Basilan to urge President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to resume talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), dpa reported.
"We challenge President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to be sincere in the peace negotiations," she said.
The call for the resumption of peace talks came amid escalating clashes between government troops and the MILF rebels.
Earlier in the week, two people were killed, three were wounded and more than a thousand fled their homes in at least three clashes between soldiers and MILF.
Eid Kabalu, MILF civil military affairs chief, said rebel commanders were getting impatient over the continued delay in the negotiations and have expressed doubt on the sincerity of the government to achieve peace in Mindanao.
Peace talks between the MILF and the government have been stalled since December 2007 over disagreements on the scope of territory to be included in a proposed Muslim homeland.