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No surrender for MILF in historic normalization annex

/ 08:16 PM January 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – The signing of the normalization annex under the Bangsamoro agreement does not mean that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is surrendering, its chief negotiator said Saturday.

“There is no element of surrender. No destruction of firearms,” Mohagher Iqbal said in a live press conference at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which brokered the historic deal.

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He added that the normalization annex delineated the laying down of firearms by the MILF, but that it noted that these firearms would only be “put beyond use.”

Philippine government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said too that the process for decommissioning of firearms is a “gradual process.”

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“Upon the signing, we cannot expect that we have a complete change in the situation,” she said.

Both panels remain hopeful, though, that the signing of the last annex seals the deal in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which would be signed in Manila.

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.

The panels also signed the addendum that delineates the Bangsamoro territorial waters.

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

For one, the Moro National Liberation Front, where the MILF broke off, attacked Zamboanga City in September 2013 over an independence bid, even though it sealed a peace deal with the Ramos government in 1996.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, MILF, normalization annex, Politics
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