World News

    Philippines Gov't, MILF Rebels Sign Historic Peace Deal

    The Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group have signed a historic peace deal to formally end decades of fighting that has left over 120,000 people dead.

    Under the deal signed Thursday, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will give up its weapons in exchange for greater political autonomy in the mainly Muslim areas of the southern Mindanao region.

    Speaking at the signing ceremony in Manila, President Benigno Aquino hailed the agreement as a "path that can lead to a permanent change in Muslim Mindanao."



    "This agreement stands as a testament to how far trust and earnestness can move humanity forward. It shows how righteousness, reason and goodwill are the mightiest of instruments in ending conflict. It proves that the search for common ground is infinitely more productive than hegemonic ambition."



    The deal, which is the result of talks that began in 2001, still faces a number of obstacles.

    A MILF splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, has promised to keep fighting the government until full independence is achieved. Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group said to have ties to Al-Qaida, also operates in the area.

    The Philippine Congress must also pass a "basic law" to create the political framework for the autonomous region, which will be called Bangsamoro. There will be pressure to approve the deal by the time President Aquino's term in office ends in mid-2016.



    Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, an associate professor at Japan's University of Tsukuba, tells VOA that he thinks the deal will be more successful than the previous two efforts to achieve peace with Muslim rebels in 1976 and 1996.



    "The process that led to the (current) eventual agreement has been more open and participatory. I think also the two sides have worked out the details much more, for example wealth and power sharing, access, revenues, and those things."



    Under the agreement, revenue from the autonomous region's vast natural resources would be split with Manila. The region would have its own police force and regional parliament. The national government would keep control over issues of defense, foreign policy, currency and citizenship.

    The Asia Foundation's Steven Rood tells VOA the deal stands to be economically beneficial for all involved.



    "(Mindanao) has vast agricultural potential, it has mineral potential, and it has gas and oil potential - all of which has been held back by conflict. That boost alone will be useful. And of course, making the Philippines more attractive for foreign investment as a whole will also be encouraged by a peace agreement."



    Don Emmerson, the director of Stanford University's Southeast Asia Forum, tells VOA that while the deal will not immediately end all of the country's rebel conflicts, it will likely help.



    "I think it's fair to say of all the various rebel presences in the Philippines, it's this one in the south in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago that has been the deadliest and done the greatest damage to the Philippine economy. So I think if this one can be resolved, the others will become more manageable."



    Emmerson cautions that much depends on how much progress is made in implementing the deal by the end of Mr. Aquino's term, and how committed his successor is to such a peace deal.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora