The Philippines govt. to sign peace agreement with Muslims
Philippine President Benigno Aquino (L) shakes hands with presidential adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles after his speech on national television at the Malacanang palace in Manila October 7, 2012.
The government of the Philippines and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are expected to sign a peace deal to put an end to their decades-long conflict.
"This framework agreement paves the way for a final and enduring peace in Mindanao… It brings all former secessionist groups into the fold. No longer does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aspire for a separate state,” President Benigno Aquino said in a nationally televised address on Sunday.
Philippines Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo J. Malaya also has issued a statement saying that the agreement is a great success for the country's religious communities including all Filipinos, Muslims and Christians.
"We are deeply grateful to Prime Minister Najib [of Malaysia], facilitator Tengku Ghafar and countless others in the Philippines and the international community who labored patiently and kept faith with President Aquino and panel chair Leonen in the long quest for peace," Malaya added.
Malaysian officials including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak have reportedly facilitated the peace talks.
According to the peace agreement, the Philippines’ government will establish an autonomous region in the Mindanao which is the second largest and easternmost island in the country to be controlled by Muslims.
Reports say that the peace agreement is set to be signed on October 15 in the capital city of Manila.
MILF has been fighting for independence since the early 1970s.
The conflict between the government and the separatist group has reportedly left more than 15000 people dead.