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Philippines Signs Deal with Muslim Rebels

The Philippines government signs a peace deal with Muslim rebels.

INDONESIA

Senin, 05 Mei 2014 17:37 WIB

Philippines Signs Deal with Muslim Rebels

Philippines, MILF, Bangsamoro, peace deal, Madonna T. Virola

After 17 years of negotiation, the deal was finally signed on March 27.


Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is the chief of negotiating panel of the Philippines government. ”It provides mechanisms for self-governance in that part of the country where you have a majority of Muslim and Bangsamoro population. This will enable the reconciliation and development that has been affected by the conflict.”


But hard work continues to keep the peace in the southern part of the country. 


Anthropologist Albert Alejo has this advice. ”In the process, we must not forget the indigenous people. They are carefully observing and taking an active role in the Bangsamoro peace process. They don’t want to be left out in the process.”


Mohajirin Ali is a member of the MILF peace panel who has been involved with the peace talk since 2001. He says the deal has given more rooms for indigenous people. 


”We’re trying to give them a slot in the parliament wherein in the central government, they don’t have that in the Senate. We’re really trying to do everything to as much as possible cater but we have also limitations on this. There are still spoilers of the peace process. But we would be willing to conduct a dialogue with these spoilers.”


The agreement will create the Bangsamoro autonomous government with its own budget and police powers. A transition body will be put in place with local elections scheduled in 2016.


During the signing of the peace deal, President Aquino thanked the international community for the support. 


”Our goal: to have the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015, when it will serve as the interim Bangsamoro government until the elections in 2016. In this manner, the people themselves will turn the tide of strife into an era of peace and equitable progress; they themselves will prove that the democratic space is vast enough to address every Filipino’s grievances and concerns.”


As part of the deal, the MILF also promised to turn in the weapons of the 15 thousand rebel fighters, considered as the biggest armed group in Southeast Asia.


After the signing, Professor Mirriam Coronel-Ferrer says it was like a wedding that ended with big party. ”One of the songs that were sung was ‘You’ve Got a Friend.  I took that as an opportunity to go up to Chairman, who is my counterpart in the MILF and told him, ‘Sir,you’ve got a friend.’ I shook his hands, and he said, ‘Were we ever enemies?’ That’s the kind of spirit that we have now.”


Military officer Colonel Johnny Macanas has been posted in Mindanao for the past 21 years. 


He looks forward to his retirement next year. 


He says people are tired of wars and will guard the peace process. 


”I’ve been longing for peace. One of the places where I’ll be staying upon my retirement is Barangray Delabayen Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. This was formerly an MILF camp. Now it’s been developed by the government. It’s 100 percent Muslim community. And the people there are my friends. I’m going to promote peace… that it should work for all of us.”


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