News / Asia

Philippines and MILF Propose Peace Deal

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Sept. 5 2011.Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Sept. 5 2011.
x
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Sept. 5 2011.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Sept. 5 2011.
The Philippine government has reached a preliminary peace agreement with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, in hopes of putting to rest a 40-year insurgency that has left more than 120,000 dead.

Under the agreement, a new political entity will be created in the southwestern corner of the Philippines, where there is a Muslim majority.  The rebel groups believe this part of Mindanao to be their ancestral domain, but in the recent rounds of peace negotiations they backed away from seeking a separate state.

President Benigno Aquino says the agreement “paves the way for final enduring peace in Mindanao.”  He says it will bring together the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other smaller Muslim rebel groups in the region.

“This means that the hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning workstations and opening doors of opportunity for other citizens,” said Aquino.

The framework for the final peace agreement says the new entity will have power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes.  The civil court system in the area will also undergo improvement, while the Shari’ah justice system exclusively for Muslims will be expanded.  The national government will have jurisdiction over defense and security, foreign policy, monetary policy and coinage, citizenship and naturalization and the postal system.

Mindanao has fertile land and is known as the country’s “bread basket.”  It is also rich in mineral resources such as copper and gold.  But the four-decade old insurgency has kept major investors at bay.  

Moro Islamic Liberation Front Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar says he is “very happy” with the framework.  But he foresees some challenges.

“There are those people who expect that an overnight change can be done and I don’t think that is possible," said Jaafar. "And there are those who are expecting so much after the solution but I don’t think that is possible.”

Jaafar says the leadership has resolved to exert all efforts to “improve the situations” of the people in the region.  

Throughout the 15 years that the government had been negotiating with the MILF in fits and starts, violence flared.  In 2008, when both parties were in the very last throes of hashing out an agreement, the Philippine high court called some provisions unconstitutional and this sparked a rebellion within the MILF that left  hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The president’s advisor on the peace process, Secretary Teresita Deles, says the Aquino administration is in a “far better place now in terms of finding peace in Mindanao” that it has ever been.  

The president’s office is posting the framework document online and in news publications, with an invitation for the public to weigh in.

The signing of the agreement is expected on October 15th and officials hope a final deal could take effect by 2016, when Aquino's term ends.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More