With a deadly siege ongoing in the
southern Philippine city of Zamboanga, Indonesia says it is ready to assist in any
effort between Manila
and the rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front to reach a peaceful
Presidential spokesman Teuku
Faizasyah noted on Wednesday that Indonesia
and the Philippines were
both founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and
neighbors with a strong bond, and that Indonesia had a duty to help create
peace in the region.
He said that Indonesia had been working to mediate between
the Philippine government and the MNLF regarding their standoff in Zamboanga City, which has claimed more than a
hundred lives since Sept 9.
"We are more than willing to be
part of any peace efforts in the southern Philippines," Faizasyah said
in an interview with the Jakarta Globe. "As a neighbor we have a duty and
interest in making the Philippines
The offer for assistance comes after
the Philippine military launched air strikes on MNLF positions in Zamboanga on
Monday, following last weeks forced evacuation of residents.
About 100,000 people have been
displaced so far.
In a previous statement released by
the Indonesian Embassy in the Philippines,
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa made a similar offer of assistance
"The government of Indonesia is always ready, at the request of
stakeholders, to contribute appropriately to the restoration of conditions in
the southern part of the Philippines,"
"A peaceful solution is the
only option that should be taken by both parties," the minister added.
Marty said that an agreement reached
in 1996 bound both sides to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner.
Indonesia currently chairs the Organization
of Islamic Conference Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP) and
played a pivotal role in the previous peace talks between the government of the
and the MNLF, which led to the signing ofthel996 peace agreement between the
The strong diplomatic and economic
ties between Indonesia and
the Philippines explain the
formers offer to assist in "any peace efforts" in the southern Philippines,
according to analysts.
The willingness of Indonesia to
act as a facilitator has also shown that the country is portraying itself as a
peacemaker while working to increase its influence in the region, analysts
"Indonesia is in the best position
to mediate on this issue and contribute to regional stability," said
Aleksius Jemadu, dean ofPelita Harapan Universitys School of Government and
As prominent members of Asean that
share common interests within the region, Indonesia needs to take the lead in
encouraging peace talks between the MNLF and the Philippine government,
Aleksius said, "because otherwise [the current Philippine conflict] may
threaten the security of the entire region."
However, the failure of the 1996
peace agreement in preventingbloodshed brings into question
whetherlndonesiaisaviable mediator on this issue.
Faizasyah acknowledged that although
Indonesia was not able to
"assess the implementation of the agreement," he said he was
confident that Indonesia
was ready to play the role of mediator once again.
Aleksius added that "the
failure [of the 1996 peace pact] should not discourage Manila and Jakarta from
pursuing a peaceful resolution to the conflict This is a sensitive issue for
the Philippines and Indonesia alike and Indonesia should play a vital role like
it has in the past"
The Philippines and Indonesia
haveenjoyed 63 years of fruitful economic and diplomatic relations and are
working hand-in-hand to explore ways to cooperate to combat terrorism and other
transnational crimes within the region.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
has previously expressed the countrys readiness to assist the Philippine
government in peace talks with Islamic separatist groups such as the MNLF.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has helped Indonesia in
negotiations with its own rebels, for instance serving as a monitor during the
Aceh peace process in 2005.
However, Indonesias attempts at promoting a
peaceful solution come amid an escalating conflict
Following the government"s
recapture of 70 percent of the areas occupied in Zamboanga by separatist
rebels, a rebel commander told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that his men were prepared
to die fighting and that he did not see the possibility of a peaceful end.
If s getting difficult, but we
should try to do something. I think Indonesia still has a chance and
must continue to play a role," Aleksius said.
As of Wednesday, the Philippine
government had yet to respond to Indonesias offer of assistance.(