Philippine gov't hopes to sign agreement with MILF before Arroyo ends term

08:17, April 26, 2010      

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The Philippine government is hoping to sign a transitional agreement with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ends her term in June 30, a Philippine presidential palace official said Sunday. The official, Anabelle Abaya, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, meanwhile assured that whatever agreement that the government and the MILF would come up "would not be signed in secrecy."

The Malaysian-brokered peace talks bogged down in August 2008 after the Philippine government and the MILF failed to sign the controversial Memorandum of Understanding on Ancestral Domain (MoA- AD), prompting two MILF commanders and their men to launch deadly attacks on mostly Christian communities in Mindanao. The accord was challenged by Christian politicians for fear that they would lose land, power, and clout to minority Muslims.

After more than a year of impasse, formal negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF resumed in December 2009.

The MILF, which the Philippine military says has 11,000 fighters, is the largest group battling for self-rule in Mindanao.

A final peace agreement is expected to end the protracted war in Mindanao that has claimed at least 120,000 lives, brought massive destruction to property, and crippled the region's economy.

In the recently-concluded talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Philippine government panel presented to the MILF a revised draft framework agreement in lieu of a final peace agreement.

Despite the possibility to sign a transitional agreement soon, the Philippine government and the MILF admitted that they are not likely to sign a final peace agreement under the Arroyo presidency due to time constraints and unresolved differences between the negotiating parties.

Source: Xinhua


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