News / Asia

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Sign Preliminary Accord

Government peace negotiator Marvic Leonen (R) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (L) shake hands following a formal signing ceremony in Manila, Philippines, October 15, 2012.
Government peace negotiator Marvic Leonen (R) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (L) shake hands following a formal signing ceremony in Manila, Philippines, October 15, 2012.
Simone Orendain
The Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group have signed an initial peace agreement that they hope will end a 40-year insurgency that has left more than 120,000 people dead. Although the agreement has wide support, it faces opposition from the former leader of a smaller group.

In a packed hall inside the presidential palace in the capital, Manila, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Murad Ebrahim said the group had “inked the most important document” in its history. The 60-something year-old Murad remarked that he himself was making history.

“Never in my wildest dream, since I was a child or when I joined the Bangsamoro struggle more than 40 years ago, that one day I will see the interior of this building,” said Ibrahim.

Philippines Peace Agreement

  • Creates new autonomous region called Bangsamoro in predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao
  • Gives the new region more control over resources and greater political power
  • Calls for the gradual disarming of MILF's 11,000 fighters
  • Establishes a transition committee to draft a law to create a new Muslim government for Bangsamoro
Insurgents have seen the palace as a symbol of central government, which they long believed was remote, uncaring and distant. Murad said, after nearly 16 years of on again / off again negotiations marred by violence, the preliminary agreement puts the MILF on track to restoring the people in the region to their “Bangsamoro” identity and claiming their homeland.

Bangsamoro is a term coined by the rebels that identifies all natives of that part of Mindanao in the south, regardless of faith. The preliminary agreement calls for creating a Bangsamoro region that will have the power to create its own sources of revenue and wealth-sharing plans.

A number of foreign governments hailed the agreement with commitments to help develop the area.  

But the leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, which forged its own peace deal in 1996, is reported to have called the framework agreement a conspiracy between the Philippines and Malaysia, which has served as peace mediator. The front’s former chairman, Nur Misuari, said it could lead to another crisis and war in Mindanao. He could not be reached by phone but an aide said he will “definitely not be going [to the peace signing], to which he is opposed.”

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front

  • Largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines
  • Formed in 1978 by Egypt-educated cleric Salamat Hashim, who broke from the Moro National Liberation Front
  • Fought a 40-year conflict for a Muslim homeland
  • More than 120,000 people were killed in the conflict
  • Held several rounds of peace talks with Philippines government since 1997
  • Linked to several militant and terrorist groups, including al-Qaida linked Jemaah Islamiyah
The MILF broke away from the MNLF in 1977. The 11,000-strong Islamic Liberation Front became the larger of the two and fought on beyond the MNLF’s agreement.  

After Monday's signing ceremony, government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen said this is a “golden opportunity” for all leaders of rebel groups to work together to form the governing principles of the Bangsamoro region.

“As far as we’re concerned it is possible to jive and harmonize the commitments that we have made to the MNLF - only the commitments that we have made to the MNLF - with the commitments that we are now making with the MILF,” said Leonen.

In his speech, Murad appealed to the MNLF leadership. He said it was not the time for recriminations but for unity and the “time to think, act and speak as one Bangsamoro…”  

The negotiators of both parties say they expect to have the final peace accord before the end of the year. Their goal is to have the new region ready to fully function by 2016.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Copper from: USA
October 16, 2012 2:50 PM
The Islamists intent on Jihad will only sign a treaty as a ruse. They are losing and realize they need to secure the gains they have made. While the infidels are believing there will now be 'peace', they are deceived. The Islamist will never stop until the are dominating the entire world OR they are so crushed that they will fall back into their enclaves to lick their wounds and get strong again. They are encouraged because the GOVERNMENT is bargaining WITH them giving them credence. This is a foolish move which ensures future conflict and more murders. PHILIPPINES, you have bargained with satan, unless you wise up, you will lose.

by: Armstrong from: USA
October 16, 2012 7:09 AM
Until 2016 They will blackmail unfollowable chances to get surely including as wide region as they get. Actually fighted back by foreigners like Malays, Indonesians and Bangalis commanded by OIC Via clerics who had been trained in Alkaida schools of Egypt , Pakistan and so on. After 2016 they will open a new front to invade the whole country. By this way next 50 to 100yrs the whole world will be Muslim colony. Surprisingly wealthy Big countries are keeping quiet not to loose their income from Muslim world. I will like to tell all of you" In this way world you are conquered will be ruined soon, we follow your principle of Democracy will be ruined . All of the leaders of Democracy are neglecting Muslim Colonization and you will be lacking people of your duty in History of World."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs