Philippines gov't, MILF reach deal on key law

Peace panels of Philippines' government and the country's one-time largest rebel group conclude talks on a draft law on the Muslim south.

Philippines gov't, MILF reach deal on key law

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines’ government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front -- the country's one-time largest rebel group -- wrapped up talks on a draft law on the Muslim south Friday, with a joint statement expressing agreement over the law’s provisions.

"The parties have agreed that resolutions arrived at by both parties will be incorporated into the final draft BBL [Basic Bangsamoro Law] that will be prepared and submitted to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III," the statement said.

However, the statement -- issued to media and signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. and the front's chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal -- did not provide specific details about the contents of the law.

On March 27, the government and the the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a peace deal that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in the southern area of Mindanao -- the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines -- while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.

The deal committed Aquino and the front to pass a law creating the Bangsamoro Region -- which will supplant the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao once the law is passed and ratified -- before the 2016 presidential elections.

The Bangsamoro Transition Committee submitted the law to the government in April for review prior to submission to Congress, only for the government to return it two months later with proposed revisions.

The former rebel outfit has since suggested that the government is seeking to renege on its commitments by diluting the wording of the law.

After the the transition committee expressed its concerns over the law on July 3, the peace panels met for four sets of meetings in Kuala Lumpur, Manila and lastly Davao City.

On August 10, the 10-day meeting in Davao City concluded with the government and the former rebel group's peace panels committing to finish a mutually agreed law by August 18. The meeting had covered specific issues such as fiscal autonomy, administration of justice and development planning, and a statement released afterwards said that the panels had "developed a shared understanding of the remaining challenges and unsettled issues."

If ratified, the law will bring much needed wealth to a region that is among the most underdeveloped in the country due to the decades-old conflict.

Under the new agreement, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will get a 75 percent share of income derived from the exploitation of metallic minerals in the area -- reported to include gold and copper. It will also receive 75 percent of tax revenue, while any income derived from fossil fuels -- like petroleum, natural gas and coal -- will be split 50-50 with the central government in Manila.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ağustos 2014, 16:38
YORUM EKLE