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Muslim rebel group welcomes Philippine government's new chief peace negotiator

07-15-2010 15:56 BJT

MANILA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The Moro Islamic Liberation Front ( MILF), the Philippines largest Muslim rebel group, welcomed the appointment of law professor Marvic Leonen as chief peace negotiator.

"I know him personally. He has the knowledge of the ancestral domain issue and the indigenous people in Mindanao," Mohagher Iqbal, MILF's chief peace negotiator, said in an interview Thursday.

"This is a welcome development. At least under Aquino administration, the peace talks is progressing," MILF Spokesman Von Al Haq said in a separate interview.

"However, while there's a new development, we cannot say the government is sincere or not in the talks. We will see what will happen," he added.

President Benigno Aquino III appointed Leonen, dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, to head the government's panel tasked to negotiate with the secessionist Muslim group.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said Leonen was appointed for his long experience in advancing people's rights and expertise in constitutional and international law.

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