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EU Welcomes Philippinepeace deal

EU Welcomes Philippine Peace Deal

9 October 2012

 

Catherine Ashton has welcomed the preliminary peace agreement reached between the Philippine Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government. In an official statement made today she congratulated both parties on the “successful conclusion of the negotiations on the Framework Peace Agreement”.

The agreement brokered by Malaysia marks a breakthrough in the negotiations between the MILF and the Philippine government which have been ongoing for the last 15 years. The fight for greater autonomy of the Muslim regions in Mindanao in the South of the predominantly Roman-Catholic Philippines began in the 1960s. The MILF, comprising of around 12,000 rebels, was officially established in 1984 as a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The 1987 offer of semi-autonomy by the Philippine government was accepted by the MNLF but not by the MILF, resulting in the continuation of insurgencies. In 1997, a cease-fire was signed between the MILF and the Philippine Government. It failed after the lack of success of negotiations in 2000. The rebellion is estimated to have claimed around 120,000 – 150,000 lives until now. The struggle over political power is also linked to that over the rich natural resources in Mindanao.

The concluded agreement records the territory of the Muslim region and the extent of power in internal affairs, including tax collection. According to the agreement, the Muslim autonomous region could be created in around two years. It is expected to be signed within the next days in Manila.

The EU’s role in the peace process has been dominated by financial assistance. In the current Country Strategy Paper, the EC names the support of the peace process in Mindanao as one of its policy priorities. Rural development projects have been implemented in Mindanao and in the rest of the Philippines over the last years in order to alleviate poverty. Furthermore, the EC contributes to the World Bank-administered Multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund.

Ashton promised the continuation of full support by the EU and said in the statement: “The early signature of this truly historical document is a major step towards a long-lasting peace in Mindanao, which will lead the island to stability and prosperity.”

Whilst the exact details of the establishment of the Muslim region remain to be worked out, Philippine officials hope for the conclusion of a final peace deal in 2016.