MILF 'very happy' with deal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2012 03:34 PM | Updated as of Oct 08 2012 04:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Muslim rebels said Sunday they were "very happy" that a roadmap had been agreed with the government aimed at ending their decades-long separatist insurgency in the south of the country.

"We are very happy. We thank the president for this," Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar told AFP by phone from his base in Mindanao.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have reached an agreement creating a new political entity in the south called “Bangsamoro.”

In a televised speech on Sunday, President Benigno Aquino III said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was “a failed experiment” that still gave rise to alienation among the Muslims.

“The work does not end here. There are still details that both sides must hammer out. Promises must be kept, institutions must be fixed, and new capacities must be built nationally and regionally in order to effectively administer the Bangsamoro. The citizenry, especially the youth, must be empowered so that new leaders may emerge.”

The decommissioning of the ARMM is expected until 2016, or before the end of Aquino’s term.

In a separate statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos said: “We look forward to the sealing of the final peace agreement very soon which will eventually bring renewed peace in Mindanao. We remain optimistic that with the forging of the peace agreement, the [Armed Forces] would be able to gradually shift from internal security operations to territorial defense operations.” – with Agence France Presse