Malaysian PM arrives in Philippines
MANILA - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in the Philippines on Thursday to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Najib arrived at the Villamor Air Base at around 1 p.m. He was welcomed by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.
He pushed through with his trip to the Philippines despite Malaysia's dilemma over the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane which had 239 people on board.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said the Malaysian Prime Minister will also meet with President Benigno Aquino III "to briefly discuss matters on mutual concern between the Philippines and Malaysia."
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.
Aside from Najib, other foreign delegates are expected to attend today's historic signing.
They include Saudi Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah, Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Naci Koru, Germany's Chair State Minister Maria Bohmer, and United Nations Development Program Administrator Helen Clark.
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. -- With Agence France-Presse