Philippine president sees final pact with MILF soon



Arab News

Published — Monday 11 February 2013

Last update 13 February 2013 6:44 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III Monday on Monday said a final peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may be signed next month.
“I think we’re very, very close to agreements on all points,” he told a news conference at the MILF stronghold in the country’s south, where he traveled to launch educational, health and livelihood projects jointly with the guerrillas aimed at improving life in the area and bolstering the prospects of a peace deal.
Aquino said he did not want to give deadlines to the consensual process but said they believe the comprehensive agreement can be signed “earlier than the end of March.”
“We have just three years and four months left. We have to speed up everything we are doing now to make this (peace) permanent,” he said.
Aquino said this would ensure that future peaceful relations would not be dependent on who is in office.
“We are near the fruits of our labor. This is not the time for our hearts to grow faint,” he told MILF leaders, Muslim residents and foreign diplomats in a sprawling community housing many of the best-armed MILF fighters.
Hundreds of government security forces and MILF fighters guarded the ceremony in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province, which has a recent history of major battles between troops and insurgents, who were at times suspected to have been aided by Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
Under the new project, Aquino’s government is pledging to provide health insurance, assistance in finding jobs and funding for schools for rebel families.
Aquino handed out health insurance cards and scholarships to Muslims and their families. The social security benefits were part of a government program called Sajahatra Bangsamoro that aims to provide basic services to members of the MILF. Health insurance cards were given to 11,000 fighters and scholarships to 500 students.
"Our goal (is) to accelerate the transition of MILF communities steeped in armed struggle to a productive citizenry that buys into the national agenda," Aquino was quoted by the Deutsche Presse Agency (DPA) as saying.
MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim said he welcomed 'this sincere gesture of the government,' but added 'we caution all not to lose sight of the imperative and the challenges of the work ahead,' specifically ongoing discussions on the creation of an autonomous Muslim region.
The 11,000-strong Muslim group had been waging a rebellion for self-rule in the south. It signed a preliminary peace agreement with the government on Oct. 15 in a major breakthrough toward ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
The accord grants minority Muslims in the south broad autonomy in exchange for ending more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and held back progress in the resource-rich but poverty-wracked region. It creates a roadmap for a final peace settlement.
Both sides have ongoing negotiations on the extent of power, revenues and wealth to be granted to the new southern Muslim autonomous region to be called Bangsamoro. The rebels have also agreed to dismantle their armed guerrilla forces, possibly with the help of international experts, under an arrangement both sides are to negotiate.
A comprehensive pact based on those details must be signed as soon as possible to ensure durable peace in Mindanao, Murad said.
"Only when we achieve this can we truly be assured of real development not only in this region but also for this country," he said.

With input from wire services

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

MADINAH/JEDDAH: Pilgrims and visitors performing tawaf (circumambulation) of the Holy Kaaba or praying around it may look forward to relief from the blazing sun, as a proposal to shade the Mataf area is being studied.According to local media, the mat...
JEDDAH: Users of WhatsApp were a joyous lot on Saturday as the call facility finally became available on the popular messaging service in the Kingdom.The facility, which is for free now, through WhatsApp was earlier banned in Saudi Arabia and only me...
TAIF: Terrorists can carry out reconnaissance missions in the guise of beggars, even wearing the abaya, and pose a serious threat to the security of the nation, an expert has warned.“Begging is a bad phenomenon anyway. However, it can pose a serious...
RIYADH: A Border Guard soldier died on Saturday in a missile attack from across the Yemeni border in Dhahran Al-Jonoub in Asir.The man, identified as Pvt. Abdulilah Abdullah Hamoud Al-Shahrani, was patrolling the border in the area when the attack to...
RIYADH: Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman takes pride in his religion and his country, according to Prince Sultan bin Salman, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) chairman.“King Salman lives his life in a confident and re...
RIYADH: Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani and Khaled Al-Muhaisin, the president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), are scheduled to meet soon to clear resolve differences between Nazaha and Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). According...
JEDDAH: Starbucks has clarified that the ban on women’s entry at one of its Riyadh stores is only temporary and that the coffee shop will be opened to them soon after a separation wall is erected.Starbucks reportedly said that members of the Committe...
RIYADH: The Saudi government is strongly supporting the development of organic farming and institutional capacity building as part of an ambitious plan to expand the Kingdom’s shift toward organic agriculture, which will be good for the country’s nut...
RIYADH: An attempt to smuggle in 2.4 million amphetamine pills was foiled along the coast of Tabuk.An Interior Ministry spokesman said the traffickers fled from the coast after they were chased by Border Guard patrols.The spokesman said a suspect boa...
RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU) closed the booths of five companies which participated in the recently concluded five-day Career Week because of lack of interest in employing applicants.Career Week, held under the auspices of Custodian of Two Holy...
RIYADH: The Kingdom has been developing Oroug Bani Maradh as a protected area for eco-tourism in the heart of the Empty Quarter.Aside from a number of live flora and fauna, there’s are non-domesticated animal species in the wildlife sanctuary located...
JEDDAH: Two women and three children, including an infant, lost their lives in separate fire incidents on Friday.A woman and two children died when their tent caught fire at Al-Issawi, 35 km into the desert, on Friday. The operations room of Civil De...
RIYADH: Arrangements are being made at the Ministry of Health to open a new portal for the Zika virus on its website.Faisal Al-Zahrani, the ministry spokesman, said that the new portal will give adequate details and updates about the virus which has...
ARAR: A Saudi father has urged his two sons to immediately surrender, after their names recently appeared on the list of suspects who participated in the terror attack on the Special Emergency Forces Mosque in Asir in August last year.Salem Yaslam Al...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education has called on schools to implement a national anti-drug plan and given a four-month period to implement the plan and report the results.Educational directorates, according to a recent circular, have issued a directiv...

Stay Connected

Facebook