Moro factions pledge peace in Philippines

The rival Moro guerrilla groups in the Philippines have agreed to talks after a meeting in Manila with Saiful Islam Qadaffi, eldest son of Libyan President Moammar Qadaffi. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to work towards peace with the government as well. “We agreed to resolve the conflict not beyond September 2008 in accordance with a road map,” said MILF leader Eid Kabalu.

The two groups denied they would actually merge. The MILF broke from the MNLF in the 1980s and continued the armed struggle after the MNLF signed a peace accord in 1996. Those accords led to creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Now the MILF is also talking peace with the government in hopes of creating a larger Moro autonomous region. MILF leaders say they expect to sign a final agreement with Manila before the ARMM regional elections next August. Government and MILF negotiators have apparently agreed on the territorial composition of the new “Bangsamoro Juridical Entity,” a system that will govern the future Moro homeland. Although its borders are not yet clear, it is said the Bangsamoro Entity will be larger than the ARMM. The ARMM was reduced to a five-province region when voters rejected Republic Act No. 9054, which sought the expansion of the region to 14 provinces. (Inquirer, Philippines, Dec. 15)

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