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article imagePhilippines, MILF sign peace deal to end Mindanao hostilities

By Leo Reyes     Jan 25, 2014 in Politics
The Philippine government has signed a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, following the signing of a preliminary agreement known as Framework Agreement on the Bangsa Moro in October 2012.
After over a year of marathon meetings and negotiations between the representatives of both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF representatives, the last of several annexes to the agreement has been signed and sealed.
The first annex which has something to do with the transitional arrangement and modalities tackled by both panels last February, ended in the signing of the transition agreement witnessed by President Benigno Aquino in Malacanang Palace with the representatives of both panels.
The other annexes to the agreement took some time to complete as both panels could not reach a common stand on various issues, including the sharing of wealth, taxation and income, among others.
After several postponements brought about by walkouts and threats by the MILF negotiating panel, the last of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement was finally signed in Kuala Lumpur.
The Muslim insurgency in southern Philippines started more than 40 years ago with the massacre of 28 Moro military recruits in Corregidor Island in 1968. The killing, known as "Jabiddah Masacre" had something to do with government's plan to invade Sabah using the Moro recruits who were then trying to escape the covert training by a Philippine military unit.
The botched invasion led to people's resentment particularly among Muslims in Southern Philippines, giving birth to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which was later joined by the the splintered group that founded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In 1986, the MNLF and MILF agreed to join forces in negotiating peace in Mindanao with the Philippine government along with the Organization of Islamic Conference and the Muslim World League as mediators.
The talks did not produce concrete results as the government of the then President Corazon Aquino balked on constitutional issues of the autonomy.
Talks continued under President Fidel Ramos and later under President Joseph Estrada but there was no concrete action to finally forge a peaceful settlement of the issues at hand as violence continues to hound the region.
About a year after President Benigno S. Aquino III was elected president in 2010, he met with MILF chair Murad Ebrahim in a secret meeting in Tokyo, Japan and they both agreed to push the peace talks.
On October 15, a Framework Agreement was signed which mandated the GPH and MILF to tackle major issues and to reach an agreement on each of the four annexes that will make up the comprehensive agreement.
The final and comprehensive agreement will now be submitted to the president for signing by the heads of the GPH and MILF panels.
More about Milf, Mindanao, Peace deal, Insurgency
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