Philippines leader to discuss shelved peace deal with Muslims

16th Feb 2016
Philippines leader to discuss shelved peace deal with Muslims

By Hader Glang

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (AA): The Philippines’ outgoing president pledged Monday to discuss a shelved law aimed at sealing a peace process in the country’s war-torn Muslim south at an upcoming regional ASEAN summit in the United States.

The Philippines’ Congress adjourned earlier this month for election campaigning without approving the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before new Philippines leaders – and with them, a new political outlook – are sworn in on the back of the May 9 presidential vote.

The BBL would have sealed a 2014 peace deal between the government and the country’s one-time largest Moro rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), bringing 17 years of peace negotiations in southern Mindanao island to a close.

Benigno Aquino III said in a statement Monday that the summit between the U.S. and the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc in Sunnylands, California, from Feb. 15-16 would be his last as president.

“This is also the last time that I can share with my fellow ASEAN leaders our resolve to this peace process, that is our contribution in responding to the issues of extremism and lack of stability,” he said.

“Even though our Congress failed to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, our position on the BBL remains: It is still the most appropriate path toward peace and development in Mindanao.”

In the statement released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser, Aquino also said, “we will outline concrete steps that we will implement despite the non-passage of the BBL.”

The BBL would have created an autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines, ending a separatist conflict that has killed around 150,000 people.

Peace negotiators from the government and the MILF have agreed to extend their cease-fire until March 2017, with Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III saying the pledge would give breathing room for the process to continue under the next administration.

Government and MILF panels have expressed their disappointment over the Congress’ failure to pass the BBL, but further committed to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) – the original peace deal signed by the government and the MILF in 2014.

Passage of the BBL is a requirement for implementation of significant aspects of the CAB, including the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants.

Both sides also agreed in a Joint Resolution issued during a special meeting held in Kuala Lumpur last week that the means forward is the early passage of the BBL in the next administration and Congress, which does not reconvene until June 30.

When the CAB was signed in 2014, Aquino had expressed optimism about the region’s future, saying that “Bangsamoro shall form a perimeter of vigilance against the spread of extremism; it shall act as a bridge of moderation among the great faiths of the various constituencies in ASEAN”.

“As the Bangsamoro matures, it shall serve as the gateway to trade, investment, and cultural exchanges… igniting a virtuous cycle of security, development, and equitable progress for the peoples of the entire region,” he had declared.

 

[Photo: Philippines President Benigno AquinoIII with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Murad Ebrahim in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (Mindanao) on 16 June 2015. Photgrpher: IHH/AA]

Leave a Comment

What is 12 + 9 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

Latest Tweets