Monday, October 8, 2012

Philippine government welcomes peace with MILF

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday welcomed the announcement of a framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the country's largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"This agreement is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines," the top U.S. envoy said in a written statement.

"The next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented," she added, urging all parties to work together to "build peace, prosperity and greater opportunities for all the people of the Philippines."

The landmark deal, announced by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III earlier Sunday, was reached after the latest round of peace talks between the government and the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.

Under the deal expected to be signed on Oct. 15, the rebels shall be accorded a larger share of power and wealth in a new autonomous region by 2016.

The new region, named Bangsamoro, shall have its vested property rights protected, the basic rights of its minorities and indigenous groups recognized and the law enforcement transferred gradually from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to a reformed police.

The new autonomous region would replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set up two decades ago, which Aquino referred to as a "failed experiment."

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