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‘Bangsamoro’ welcomed

Manila, Philippines – US Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton on Sunday welcomed the announcement of a framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“This agreement is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines,” Clinton said.

“The next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented,” she added, urging all parties to work together to “build peace, prosperity, and greater opportunities for all the people of the Philippines.”

The landmark deal announced by President Benigno S. Aquino III last Sunday was reached after the latest round of peace talks between the government and the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Under the deal expected to be signed on October 15, the MILF shall be accorded a larger share of power and wealth in a new autonomous region by 2016.

The new region, named “Bangsamoro,” shall have its vested property rights protected, the basic rights of its minorities and indigenous groups recognized, and law enforcement transferred gradually from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to a reformed police.

The new autonomous region would replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set up two decades ago, which Aquino referred to as a “failed experiment.”

Meanwhile, Malacañang is hopeful that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army would be inspired by the peace deal and soon restart peace talks with the government.

Presidential spokesman Edwin F. Lacierda urged the communist rebels to drop their hardline stance on the release of political prisoners so stalled negotiations can finally move forward.

“We would like to believe that it would inspire the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) of the sincerity of this government in working towards a peaceful agreement with the rebel groups. We have seen this with the MILF,” Lacierda said. (PNA/Xinhua and Genalyn D. Kabiling)

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