Philippine Peace Accord expected by March
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) A final peace agreement between the government of the Philippines and the Muslim Rebels in the South of the country may be signed next month. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said on Monday 11. February 2013, after having traveled to the region for talks with the Rebels.
President Aquino stated to media, “I think that we are close to agreements on all points”. Part of the agreements is the launch of joint projects aimed at improving the socio-economical conditions in the region to create a solid basis for the peace accords. Among the projects to improve conditions in the region, Aquino promised to provide health insurance, programs to assist finding employment, as well as the funding of schools for rebel families with school age children.
Aquino stated, that he did not want to pronounce any deadlines, but that he believes the agreements can be signed before march 2013.
Talks took place in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguinano. The talks were guarded by hundreds of both policemen, soldiers as well as fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, MILF. Only recently, the town witnessed heavy clashes between rebels and government military forces.
The MILF is estimated to have 11,000 troops under its command. Thefour decades old insurgency and rebellion for self-rule in the south is one of Asia´s longest running insurgencies. The MILF has at times been aided by a variety of Al Qaeda associated organizations and also provided logistical and other support for them. Among other, the Bengladeshi HuJI has been strongly represented in the South Philippines. Some analysts strongly suspect that the USA, which has bases in the Philippines, has used the presence of Al Qaeda organizations in the Philippines for controlling aspects of Philippine political decision making processes. An unstable Philippines is more likely to be requiring a US military presence.