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Gov’t, MILF seal peace deal

/ 04:56 PM January 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have signed the last annex of the Bangsamoro framework, sealing the peace pact that seeks to end the decades-long Muslim secessionist movement in the country.

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The government panel also signed the addendum on the Bangsamoro Waters on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which has been brokering the negotiations..

Earlier in the day, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda tweeted: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an agreement.”

The government said it was expecting good news on Saturday’s plenary meeting in Kuala Lumpur on the normalization annex that would discuss the laying down of arms by both parties.

Lacierda in a separate tweet posted a picture of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, Philippine Peace Panel Chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and Yasmin Busran-Lao, government panel member, shedding tears of joy after the agreement.

Saturday’s agreement also coincided with the birthday of the late President Corazon Aquino, OPAPP said.

The MILF, which has been pushing for secession for decades, signed with the Philippine government the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in October 2012.

Both parties have also signed the annexes on transitional arrangements and modalities, revenue generation and wealth sharing, and power sharing.

Government and MILF panels signing the peace documents. Malacanang photo

Once the documents are completed, a separate political entity called the Bangsamoro Political Entity will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The peace agreement with the MILF is one of the cornerstones of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

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The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), comprising four annexes, will be signed in Manila.

While other armed groups remain, turning the Moro rebel group into a government ally is seen as a key step to end the Muslim insurgency.

One rebel group vowed to keep fighting.

“We will continue the struggle,” said Abu Misri, spokesman of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, which broke off from the MILF three years ago. “What we want is an Islamic state, an Islamic people, an Islamic constitution,” he told The Associated Press by telephone Saturday.

Moro National Liberation Front rebels took scores of hostages in September when they seized coastal communities in southern Zamboanga City after accusing the government of reneging on its commitments under a 1996 autonomy deal. Thousands of troops ended the 10-day uprising with a major offensive that killed more than 200 people, most of them insurgents.

Late Friday, four explosions damaged a gymnasium and the main gate of the town hall of Malabang municipality in southern Lanao del Sur province. Police said it was not immediately clear if groups opposed to the talks were involved.

Evan Jendruck from the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre said the success of the new peace agreement hinges on the ability of the former Moro insurgents to put other armed groups under control. While the military would still have a presence in the new autonomous region, security would basically be in the hands of a Bangsamoro force composed of former insurgents.

“Will MILF be able to fill the power vacuum? If they don’t do that, then the peace process won’t go forward,” Jendruck said.

A preliminary peace accord that was about to be signed in Malaysia was turned down in 2008 by the Supreme Court, sparking rebel attacks on Christian communities that provoked a major military offensive and shattered a ceasefire.

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TAGS: Government, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, MILF, Peace agreement, Politics
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