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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid