Malaysia PM to attend peace pact signing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2014 03:30 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2014 11:30 PM

MANILA – Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will attend the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) tomorrow, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed.

DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said the Malaysian Prime Minister "will meet with [President Aquino] to briefly discuss matters on mutual concern between the Philippines and Malaysia."

Razak is pushing through with his trip to the Philippines amid his government's efforts to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines plane which had 239 people on board.

Earlier this week, Razak said the plane, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had "ended" in the Indian Ocean.

Malaysia started serving as the facilitator of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and MILF in 2001, hosting the talks in its capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia also led the international monitoring team observing the ceasefire between the two sides.

The Malaysian leader last visited the Philippines in October 2012 to witness the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The two leaders last met in Malaysia during Aquino's state visit to Malaysia in February 2014.

Following 17 years of negotiations, the Philippine government and the MILF will sign the peace deal to end one of Asia's longest and deadliest insurgencies.

MILF leaders will sign the pact in exchange for control of a planned autonomous region in the impoverished south of the mainly Catholic nation.

The MILF, which the military estimates has about 10,000 fighters, is the biggest remaining rebel group yet to sign a peace accord.

President Aquino and MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim will oversee the signing of the peace deal during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Manila.

The terms of the deal, completed in January after drawn-out talks, would see the MILF disband its 12,000-member guerrilla force and share power with Manila in the Muslim south of the mainly Catholic nation.

After the peace deal signing, Aquino is to ask parliament to pass a "basic law" creating a Muslim self-rule area covering 10 percent of the country's land, with its own police force, parliament and power to levy taxes.

The political entity would replace one created after a 1996 peace treaty with a rival Muslim guerrilla faction called the Moro National Liberation Front, but which the Aquino government deemed a failure.

The law will be ratified in a regional referendum, and the region would then elect its own parliament in May 2016, coinciding with the next presidential election to elect Aquino's successor. – with Agence France-Presse