The decade-long conflict in the Philippines appears to have come to an end with the conclusion of peace talks between the government and the Muslim rebel group over the weekend in Kuala Lumpur.
The Financial Times reports that negotiators for the Government of the Philippines and the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front forged the framework agreement creating “a self-governing political entity for Muslim-majority areas on Mindanao” that will replace the existing autonomous region.
The new political body is named “Bangsamoro” which “symbolizes and honors the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao,” President Benigno Aquino III said, adding that, “The ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) is a failed experiment. Many of the people continue to feel alienated by the system, and those who feel that there is no way out will continue to articulate their grievances through the barrel of a gun.”
A 15-person transition committee will draft the new entity’s basic laws, which will then be debated by Congress and approved in a referendum. Mr. Aquino hopes the new region will be installed by the end of his term in 2016. Peace advocates say though there is “much to be done”, it is a small step in the right direction towards “securing peace”.
The concluded peace process is also seen as a breakthrough for the Aquino administration after protracted negotiations since 2003, ending an insurgency that has racked the southern island of Mindanao and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.