News / Asia

    Philippines President Meets with Muslim Rebel Leader

    Government negotiators say the two hour meeting in a Tokyo suburb was cordial and both sides agreed on need to fast-track peace negotiations

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino (R) meets Al Haj Murad Ibrahim, a chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in Tokyo, August 4, 2011
    Philippine President Benigno Aquino (R) meets Al Haj Murad Ibrahim, a chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in Tokyo, August 4, 2011
    Simone Orendain

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino met Thursday night with the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), amid peace negotiations between the two sides.  It was the first time a Filipino president met with the head of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group.  

    Cordial discussion


    Government negotiators say the two hour meeting in a Tokyo suburb was cordial and both sides agreed on a need to fast-track peace negotiations.  Philippine chief negotiator Marvic Leonen says he counted three instances in which the rebel Chairman Murad Ebrahim said his group was confident in the president’s sincerity.

    “I was in the room.  I was the note-taker and I saw there was certain chemistry between the chair of the MILF and that of the president.  Our president was able to bring the chair of the MILF at ease and the exchange was quite candid, without, of course, the raising of voices.  They understood many points of view,” Leonen explained.

    He says only the president, the chairman and the heads of each side’s peace panels were present.  At a news briefing Friday he gave few details on what exactly was discussed, only that there were many points the negotiating panels will flesh out. He emphasized that the Muslim group came to the meeting not as separatists but as Filipinos.

    “We are not considering this as a separatist movement because the agenda on the table no longer includes independence and they have said it so," he said. "The MILF has conducted press briefings, the MILF has met with the business community here in Makati and the MILF has met with civil society groups and they say their agenda is no longer to separate from the Republic of Philippines.”

    Rebel demands

    Instead, Leonen says they want a sub-state in which they remain Filipino citizens but keep their Muslim identity.  In their primary document submitted to the Aquino peace panel in February, the MILF scaled back their land claims.

    In a statement the MILF called the meeting “very cordial, frank, honest and intimate.”  The group also said it was an important milestone in their struggle for self-determination.

    For more than three decades, Muslim rebel groups in the southern Philippines have been fighting the government.  More than 120,000 people have died as a result and more than a million people have been displaced.  The MILF is the largest rebel group with more than 10,000 members.

    Over the years, talks have broken down repeatedly between the government and the rebels.  The Aquino administration has signaled its intent to forge peace in the resource-rich region in an effort to attract more foreign investment to the country.

    The next meeting between negotiators will be in two weeks.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    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