The Philippines has signed a framework peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group on Monday aimed at ending decades of violent insurgency in southern Philippines.
The landmark peace agreement was signed by Chief Negotiator Atty.Marvic Leonen for the Philippines and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF in the presence of President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak along with known peace advocates and foreign diplomats.
The agreement calls for the creation of an autonomous political entity known as Bangsamoro to replace the failed Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARRM)
“Today, I extend the hand of friendship to the Filipino people… today we are here to put an end to the adversarial relationship between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine nation. Today it humbles me to say before you, we stayed our course, perseverance has prevailed,”MILF Chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said in a speech during the signing ceremonies in Malacanang Palace.
President Aquino, for is part said, the agreement will lead to positive changes and it will mark a new chapter in Philippine history.
“Today we signed an agreement that can finally see, genuine lasting peace in Mindanao,” Aquino said.
Malaysia served as the third party facilitator during to long and tedious negotiations between the government and representatives of the Muslim rebel group.
The Philippine and Malaysian governments said in a joint statement, the Framework Agreement "is the outcome of years of diligence, commitment and sincerity by both the GPH and the MILF, as well as the Government of Malaysia as third-country facilitator and the members of the International Contact Group, towards finding a lasting and durable solution to the Bangsamoro question and achieving enduring peace and sustainable development in Mindanao."
The agreement will lead to the creation of a 15-member Transistion Commission tasked to draft a law that will govern the new autonomous region. Likewise the agreement will lead to the eventual dissolution of 11,00-strong rebel army.
As provided for in the new accord, MILF will no longer pursue its claim for independence in exchange for full autonomy covering specified Muslim-populated areas in Mindanao
Hundreds of Muslim guerrillas and peace advocates from southern Philippines have trooped to Manila to join their peace negotiators in the signing ceremonies of the new peace accord.
Signing of Framework Peace agreement (GRP and MILF)
Meanwhile, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari on Monday lashed at the “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) calling it a “vicious conspiracy between the Philippines and Malaysia,”Philstar.com reports.
“The message is very clear. The framework agreement is ominous. It could lead to the dissolution of the remaining MILF group under Hadji Murad and the unification of the Bangsamoro people under the aegis of our leadership,” he said.
“The framework will turn into a recipe for the failure of the administration of President Aquino as well as their counterpart in this conspiracy against our people, the administration of Prime Minister Najib (Razak) of Malaysia,” Misuari added.
Misuari claimed Malaysia is pushing the agreement to get pressure off from the territorial claim which include North Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak.
The new framework peace agreement has been hailed by the United Nations and many of its member countries.