Muslim rebels want Philippine constitution amended

11:21, September 24, 2010      

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Muslim rebels who have been waging a more-than decade old war with the Philippine government want to have the country's constitution amended as part of their final peace agreement.

The amendment will cater to their demand to create a sub-state in Mindanao in Southern Philippines where majority of the population are Muslims, Mohaqher Iqbal, the chairman of the newly- reconstituted peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ( MILF), said Friday.

"The government will have to amend the Constitution. Constituents in sub-state areas that would form part of the proposed sub-state would be consulted," Iqbal said.

Once the sub-state is created, the Moro people will have control on all aspects, except on four: national defense, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, as well as postal services.

In effect, Iqbal said the central government still has the authority to deploy at the sub-state because it has the national defense jurisdiction over the sub-state.

"The sub-state is still under the Philippines. This is not (an) independent state," he said.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.

Peace talks between the government and the MILF stalled in August 2008 following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

Efforts are being undertaken by both sides to revive the talks. The central government of the Philippines has expressed its willingness to resume talks with the MILF. A final peace deal with the government will touch the issues of autonomy and the civil settlement of the separatist group's 11,800-strong guerrilla fighters.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王千原雪)

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