» 10/08/2012, 00.00
Mindanao: truth and shadows of historic accord between Islamist rebels and government
Draft agreement marks the birth of the new autonomous region of Bangsamoro and gives way to peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It was, however, boycotted by several Islamic groups opposed to mere autonomy. Catholics fear the government concessions on application of Sharia law. The new entity includes two cities with a large presence of Christians.
(AsiaNews)-The Islamic rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and
the Philippine government have announced the conclusion of the framework
agreement on the new autonomous region of Mindanao, the first step to end the
forty-year conflict that has cost about 120 lives. Talks
between delegates concluded yesterday in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), with a speech
by President Benigno Aquino in a live link from Manila. This
morning the government announced that the ceremony for the signing of the
historic document will be held on October 15 in the Philippine capital. None
of the representatives, however, gave a timetable for the peace process, which
according to government sources should end in 2016 with the end of Aquino's
Calvo, a Claretian missionary for forty years in the Philippines and member the
Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace in Zamboanga, told AsiaNews:
"This is a historic moment for the island of Mindanao in the Muslim
majority. President Aquino has high expectations for the
future. Though the document has not yet been signed, the population is
confident and believes that this is the way to go for a permanent peace in the
region. "Mindanao is also home to most of the country's natural resources,
especially gold mines. But
few companies have risked investing in these years of continuous guerrilla
attacks by armed groups and kidnappings in the bottom of extortion. The
possibility of an end to the conflict with the Islamic rebels also represents a
great economic opportunity for the population, which in the future will enjoy
the investment of foreign countries and engage the country's economic recovery,
which has an annual growth rate of 5.8%.
However, Fr. Calvo
dampens enthusiasms and stresses that the agreement is the result of a
MILF-he states - is only part of the Islamic extremist landscape that has
caused bloodshed in Mindanao since 1972. Among them are Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist
group close to al-Qaeda, born in the 90s and the Bansamoro Islamic Freedom
Fighetrs (Biff), a group created
in 2011 by former members of the MILF who demand full independence. " Today,
their spokesman Abu Misri announced that the group "will support
everything that is useful for the people of Mindanao but only if the agreement leads
to a real independence for the region."
new autonomous region of Bangsamoro replaces the Autonomus Region of Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM) as defined by the President a "failed experiment"
that has not stopped the violence and allowed the most powerful families to
grow even richer. The
use of the term "Bangsamoro", a word to identify the local Islamic
community, is a sign of Manila's willingness to recognize the ancestral domain
of land by the ethnic Muslim. The
creation of the new semi-autonomous region will be submitted to a popular
government will retain control of the defense and security, and the management
of foreign and economic policy. The
parties will form a Provisional Committee to manage the transition phase that
will oversee five provinces, three cities and six towns that will be part of
the autonomous region. 13
pages long, the document is the result of months of meetings and consultations
between the MILF, the government and members of civil society, including
representatives of the Catholic Church, Protestant Church and tribal
includes: the slow disarmament of armed militias, a new law for the election of
representatives of local government and the possibility of using sharia to
resolve internal disputes to the Muslim community. AsiaNews
sources warn that the application of Islamic law concerns the Christian
community and the Church. The
agreement provides for the addition of six new cities and several villages in
five provinces of the ARMM: Zamboanga-Basilan - Sulu and Tawi Tawi. Among
them there are the new centers Cotabato and Isabela town, where Christians are
about 50% of the population. (S.C.)
PIME missionary: lack of agreement between Muslims and government behind Mindanao attacks
On Christmas Day Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed 14 people in southern Mindanao, including Christians. The area is predominantly Muslim. The region is subject of decades long negotiations between Muslims and Manila over "special status". Failure to sign "benefits the extremist groups who do not want the deal." The attacks "did not target Christians alone, although the situation remains tense".
Philippine government and communist rebels, possible peace treaty in 18 months
The talks are being held in Oslo and will last until February 25. Release of political prisoners and economic reforms on the agenda. The parties resumed negotiations on 16 February after six years of hostilities between the Philippine army and the New People's Army (NPA).
Philippine President cancels deal with MILF
Due to the heightened climate of violence in recent weeks, Arroyo orders a halt to the signing of the memorandum of agreement (Moa) between the government and Islamic rebels. It was to have established the territories of the Muslim autonomous region of Mindanao (Armm).
Mindanao: four Christians killed, a fifth missing
Yesterday an armed group ambushed a bus in Lanao del Sur, stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The group robbed passengers and then shot the men. The Philippine Church urges an accord between the government and MILF to avoid an escalation in violent attacks.
Ten years after violence ended, peace still eludes Mindanao
Ten years after Moro rebels and the Filipino government signed a peace deal, Fr Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME missionary, looks at the current situation in southern Philippines. Building peace and achieving economic development can be done through inter-faith dialogue and understanding.
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