Philippines, Muslim rebels renew commitment to 2014 peace agreement

The Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group on Sunday renewed their commitment to a 2014 peace pact aimed at ending decades of conflict in the country's southern region.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) met at the weekend in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the implementation of the agreement that calls for the creation of a new Muslim autonomous entity in the southern region of Mindanao.

"We have agreed that the negotiations phase is over and now it is time to implement what we have agreed we will do," government peace adviser Jesus Dureza said.

Dureza noted that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has the support of the leadership of Congress in implementing the agreement with the MILF.

"With their support, we have no doubt we will see an early enactment of an inclusive Bangsamoro enabling law," he said.

Under the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which failed to pass Congress in the previous administration, the new Muslim autonomous entity would have its own powers over such areas as agriculture, trade, tourism and education.

Some legislators have expressed reservations over some provisions that may violate the constitution, such as a separate police force.

MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim said the rebel group was committed to the peace process and prepared to work with the government in implementing the agreement despite the difficulties.

The MILF has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao since the late 1970s, but agreed to hold peace negotiations with the government to discuss autonomy in 1997.

Last update: Sun, 14/08/2016 - 13:20
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