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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/27/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Conflict has claimed more than 120,000 lives.

The Philippines and its largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have signed a final peace pact. With the agreement, 45 years of conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people in the country's south has officially been ended.

Government representative Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (front left) and the rebel's Mohagher Iqbal (front right) signed peace agreements this past weekend.

Government representative Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (front left) and the rebel's Mohagher Iqbal (front right) signed peace agreements this past weekend.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/27/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Philippines, Muslims, Moaist, peace pact


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Battles between Muslim separatists and Maoist guerrillas has been blamed as the chief cause of the stunted growth in resource-rich rural areas. Fighting there has prevented investment in mines, plantations, energy and infrastructure.

Muslim rebels have agreed to disband guerrilla forces, surrender weapons, and rebuild their communities. Under the pact, the government will gives them self-rule with wider powers to control of their economy and culture.

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The road to peace remains long and arduous. Threats to lasting peace include small breakaway MILF faction to criminal gangs and Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and feuding clans.

Filipino President Benigno Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak smiled and clapped as peace panel leaders signed the autonomy deal. Razak had been previously preoccupied over his nation's missing jet crisis.

"Let us exchange our bullets for ripening fruit, our cynicism for hope, our histories of sorrow for a future of harmony, peace, and prosperity," Aquino told a gathering of officials, diplomats, lawmakers and Muslim community members. "I will not let peace be snatched from my people again."

The event marked the final chapter in stop-start negotiations that lasted 17 years. Malaysia has pledged its continued support.

"Much work remains, and there will be setbacks along the way," Najib said. "But the commitment to peace - the commitment I see in this room today - must not waver."

The agreement incorporates all agreements by both sides, including annexes on power and wealth-sharing, and the creation of a police force for the autonomous Muslim area.

"The comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro is the crowning glory of our struggle," Muslim rebel leader Al Haj Ebrahim Murad said. He was referring to the new region, which takes for itself the name used for Muslim and non-Christian natives of southern Mindanao island.

He invited other Islamic groups, such as the Moro National Liberation Front, which opposed the deal, to join the new Bangsamoro political entity.

The United States welcomed the final peace deal and praised the "persistence and determination" of both sides along with the Malaysian government.

"The United States fully supports the ongoing peace and reconciliation process, and we encourage all parties to continue their efforts to ensure a future of peace, prosperity and stability in the southern Philippines," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington.

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