News / Asia

Philippines Rebel Leader: Challenges Exist With Peace Deal

Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim holds a rare press conference at Camp Darapanan, Philippines, October 27, 2012. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim holds a rare press conference at Camp Darapanan, Philippines, October 27, 2012. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
Simone Orendain
The head of the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group is looking ahead to challenges in the remaining rounds of talks to hammer out final peace with the government.  Both sides are hopeful the agreement will put an end to the Muslims’ four-decade fight for self-determination that has left more than 120,000 people dead.

The chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front met with reporters for the first time since the signing of a preliminary peace agreement between the group and the Philippine government two weeks ago.  Under the hot sun in the sprawling rebel headquarters of Camp Darapanan, Murad Ebrahim called the signed document “the best political solution” crafted by any Muslim group in Mindanao, in the country’s southern third.  But he noted it is only a first step.

“Please be reminded that this task ahead is bigger and more complex and complicated, translating this agreement into reality on the ground,” he said.

The preliminary agreement sets guidelines for creating a region in the western half of Mindanao called Bangsamoro.  The name, coined by the rebels years ago, stands for all natives of the land including Muslims, non-Muslims and indigenous people.  It would effectively replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in the same location, which was a result of a 1996 peace agreement between a smaller Muslim group and the government.

Under the preliminary pact, the region will have power to set up its own parliamentary government, levy taxes and generate revenue, among other tasks.  The Philippines government would oversee areas such as national security, foreign relations and monetary policy.

Murad says the next steps to a final peace agreement will see the completion of provisions for power - and wealth-sharing.  Then, shaping the intergovernmental relationship and the details on the decommissioning of arms will immediately follow.  Both negotiating panels say this could happen by December.  This would set the stage for completing the transition to the new Bangsamoro entity by 2016.

MILF negotiator Attorney Michael Mastura attended the press conference.  He says there was euphoria among the group when the deal was first signed.  But Mastura, who likens himself to “the villain in any good story,” cautions that the four main provisions- or annexes- are very difficult to iron out.

“If and when these annexes and all the documents cannot be accommodated by the present constitution, I will repeat what I said before:  the present constitution is too narrow a framework to negotiate what the Bangsamoro aspire for,” said Mastura.

This has been a sticking point throughout the past 15 years that both sides have been negotiating in talks peppered with violent eruptions.  President Benigno Aquino’s team of negotiators have said in the past there would be no need to change the constitution. 

The two panels meet next in the second week of November.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid