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Ensuring peace in Mindanao

Publication Date : 07-02-2014


Peace between warring parties can be achieved only when both sides are willing to give and take and compromise.

This has been done on paper between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government on January 25 with the signing of the fourth and final annex of a peace roadmap drawn in 2012.

The parties to the conflict have gone through the agreement literally word by word in an exhaustive process to end over 40 years of bloody conflict that has taken about 150,000 lives.

Although the deal was reached with the Philippines’ biggest Muslim rebel group, MILF, which is over 12,000 strong, a splinter faction representing a few hundred militants - the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) - is attempting to derail the peace process as it feels the MILF has compromised too much.

The current fighting, which flared in Maguindanao province on Monday between BIFF and Philippine troops, is not expected to wreck the peace process but will definitely delay it. Philippine Predident Benigno Aquino, who wants to ensure a final settlemment to the decades-long conflict before the end of his term, has vowed to crush the militants. The local Philippine military spokesman said he expects the fighting with the splinter group to be over in about three days.

It is only when the fighting has finally stopped that the sensitive final stage, where the rebels will have to give up their weapons, can begin. There could still be some resistance at this stage.

The parties to the conflict must be congratulated for having the courage and the vision to work holistically towards a comprehensive solution, including satisfying critical security details. Manila must also be congaratulated for allowing Malaysia to step in as an honest broker. Let us hope this final spat will be over soon and that lasting peace will prevail.


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