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Palace says MILF deal within reach

MalacaÑang on Tuesday said the government is “very close” to forging a final and comprehensive peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front even as the Moros expressed dismay over the stalled peace deal. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said peace “is withint reach and urged members of the MILF “to continue to join us in looking forward to sharing the dividends of peace.” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras  for his part “there are many small things that need to be cleaned up, (but) we are very close to a deal.” Almendras said  the government continued efforts to deliver social services to the MILF communities, including scholarships, as part of the Sajahatra program. Almendras said achieving peace in Mindanao “is not an impossible dream.” “Definitely, it’s not a stop-and-forget (plan). We are moving there,” he noted. In  Sultan Kudarat, the MILF first vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said the delay might lessen the optimisim of the Bangsamoro people. In his speech at Camp Darapan, Jaafar said that if the impasse continues, the MILF leadership’s control on the Bangsamoro people might also decrease. “Every single day of delay decreases our chance to implement the framework agreement and also decreases the MILF’s control on our people. It also decreases the chance to resolve the Bangsamoro problem,” he said during the visit of diplomats and members of the international community who paid courtesy to the MILF leadership. After the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement October last year at Malacañang where hundreds of thousands of people watched and celebrated, it was agreed that annexes of the agreement was supposed t have been ironed out and signed in the first quarter of 2013. Up to this day, Jaafar said only the annexes on the Transitional Arrangement and Modalities were agreed upon. The issues on power and wealth sharing and normalization were left hanging, he said. With PNA
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