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Historic Peace Deal Ends Five-Decade Conflict in the Philippines

LONDON and KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, January 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

Mindanao peace process becomes a reference for peacemaking

After 16 years of negotiations the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have completed the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that settles one of the most protracted armed conflicts in the world. This is the most significant peace agreement since the Nepal agreement in 2006.

The 43rd round of talks held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 22 - 25 January, dealt with a return to normalisation - the fourth and last annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which both sides signed in October 2012. This annex focuses on the security arrangements in the Bangsamoro, the self-governing entity that will result from the peace negotiations.  

With the facilitation of the Government of Malaysia and the support of the International Contact Group - of which Conciliation Resources and the UK Government are members - over the past year the parties signed the annexes on power sharing, transitional arrangements and wealth sharing.

In a majority Christian and highly centralised country, Muslims in the southern island of Mindanao - who call themselves Bangsamoro - have been waging an armed struggle for self-determination since 1968. In its early years the conflict caused more than 100,000 deaths. As recently as 2008 more than 500,000 people were displaced when the peace negotiations hit a serious stumbling block.

"This agreement brings a closure to a conflict that is rooted in centuries old resistance against colonisation and assimilation. The Government and MILF are proving that unity in diversity is not only possible, but a cornerstone for a healthy democracy." - Kristian Herbolzheimer, Philippines Programme Director at Conciliation Resources

Empowerment of the Bangsamoro people

Parties have agreed to jointly pursue measures to increase the Bangsamoro's revenue generation and wealth creation capacity "to attain the highest form of fiscal autonomy". The central government will provide a yearly block grant and will create a special fund to fast-track development in what today is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. The Bangsamoro will enjoy increased taxation powers; they will further have a share of 75% of revenues from metallic minerals and 50% from fossil fuels extracted within its territory.

In terms of power-sharing, central Government retains powers like defense, foreign policy, immigration and global trade. The Bangsamoro will manage 58 exclusive powers within its territorial jurisdiction including investment, employment, agriculture, land management, free ports, tourism, power generation, shari'ah and customary justice, education, health, social services public works, and local administration. Social security and pensions, human rights, justice, civil service, coastguard, and public order will be shared responsibilities between both administrations.

Future challenges

Despite this landmark achievement challenges remain immense. The Bangsamoro entity will govern a plural society composed of 16 ethno-linguistic Muslim groups, 13 indigenous groups and a minority Christian population. Tensions between and among these groups are frequent, especially related to land disputes. Breakaway groups, private armies, and proliferation of weapons pose additional security threats.

Conciliation Resources is coordinating a project to promote public participation in the implementation of the peace agreement. Together with 10 local partners, and funded by the EU, Norway and the UK, the project will increase local capacities and ownership in drafting the Basic Law, deploying the new police force, and ensuring the rights of victims to truth, justice and reparation.

"The more inclusive, the more legitimate; and the more legitimate, the more sustainable the peace process will be".

Kristian Herbolzheimer, Philippines Programme Director at Conciliation Resources

Notes to editors: Conciliation Resources is an independent organisation working with people in conflict to prevent violence and build peace. In the Philippines, we work with all sections of society from grassroots communities to the political elite, enabling individuals and organisations to play a constructive, problem-solving role in developing peace. We place special emphasis on empowering women as a key approach for just a lasting peace. http://www.c-r.org


For interviews with Kristian Herbolzheimer, Philippines Programme Director or Emma Leslie, Philippines Programme Associate please contact:

Tamanna Kalhar | Media & Communications Officer | Mobile: +44(0)7436-102-514 | [email protected]

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