World Bulletin / News Desk
Moro Muslims or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government have agreed a peace deal to end a 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, President Benigno Aquino said on Sunday.
The agreement sets in train a roadmap to create a new Bangsamoro autonomous region in Muslim-dominated areas of the south before the end of Aquino's term in 2016. Bangsamoro refers to Muslim and non-Islamic minority people in the southern Philippines.
Expectations are high that after nearly 15 years of interrupted talks, both Muslims and the government will work side-by-side to realise the promises contained in the agreement, to be signed on Oct. 15 in Manila and witnessed by Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The two sides reached the deal for the resource-rich region during talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
"This agreement creates a new political entity and it deserves a name that symbolises and honours the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao and celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation. That name will be Bangsamoro," Aquino announced via a live broadcast from the presidential palace.
"This framework agreement is about rising above our prejudices. It is about casting aside the distrust and myopia that has the plagued efforts of the past," said Aquino, surrounded by his cabinet ministers.
Zainuddin Malang, executive director of the Mindanao Human Rights Action Cente, a civil society group monitoring an existing truce in the region says the two sides must take extra caution in their next steps.
"This agreement is merely an opportunity to end the conflict. The actual end of the conflict can only come from its successful implementation. We can only hope this agreement won't suffer the fate of prior agreements," Malang said.
"What is very important here is that we have a president who has so much political capital, backing the framework agreement, so the chances are higher to end the conflict."
The deal will set up a 15-member Transition Commission, which has until 2015 to draft a law creating the new entity to replace the current autonomous region.
The new entity and its jurisdiction will be determined through a plebiscite after the passage of the organic law.
The Muslim area will gain more political and economic powers, including imposition of taxes to cut central government subsidies, a bigger share in revenues from natural resources and a more active role in internal security.
"This framework agreement paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao," Aquino said. "It brings all former secessionist groups into the fold; no longer does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aspire for a separate state.
"This means that hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning work stations, and opening doorways of opportunity for other citizens."
Junta leader insists won’t follow example of UK’s Cameron by resigning if Thais reject draft charter in Aug. 7 referendum
- Police believe suspects behind Sunday’s car bombing in Muslim south were involved in blast at mall car park last year
Second finance minister resigns for ‘personal reasons’ as PM announces 3rd cabinet reshuffle since 2013 election
Activist calls for transparency over why officials were transferred in province notorious for refugee rights abuses, graft
SKorean leader addresses concerns on internal division as government highlights importance of firm handling with North Korea
The southern area of Thailand is plagued by insurgency, although the shooting not thought to be related to the insurgency
A Singapore Airlines plane en route to MIlan turned back to Singapore two hours into journey after reported engine problem
It has been one year since the financial scandal has rocked Malaysia with Prime Minister Najib Razak standing taller than despite an an avalanche of investigations, outmanoeuvering opponents, and boosting his control with a pair of recent election wins.
Officials said the strikes began in the last week and were against extremist targets in the southern part of the country.
The poll comes as Australia attempts to rebalance its economy away from a once-in-a-generation mining boom stymied by tumbling commodities prices.
More than 840 others injured after extreme weather conditions battered eastern city of Yangcheng
Driver detained after bus carrying 56 people bursts into flames after crashing into guardrails of highway in central Hunan
Philippine army says 7 sailors abducted earlier this week handed over by kidnap-for-ransom gang to ISIL-linked militants
Blast damages several roadside vending stalls, shatters windows of nearby buildings including a school
Jailed opposition leader says parties must end internal disputes if they are to offer strong alternative to ruling alliance
North Sumatran capital of Medan teaches blind students love of Islamic holy book through braille