Philippine govt, Muslim rebels reach deal on ancestral lands
Updated: 2006-02-08 09:15
The Philippine government and Muslim separatist rebel negotiators said they
had reached a preliminary deal on the controversial issue of ancestral lands.
Two days of preliminary peace talks in Malaysia ended with both parties
"successfully wrapping up the consensus points of the ancestral domain issue,"
negotiators from the Manila government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
said in a joint statement from the southern resort of Port Dickson.
"The ancestral domain agreement may be signed by late March 2006,
simultaneously with the inception of the formal talks," they said.
The parties had agreed jointly to determine the scope of the Moro homeland
based on technical maps and data submitted by both parties, it said.
The two also settled on measures to address "the legitimate grievances" of
the Moro people "arising from the unjust disposession and/or marginalization"
and "their right to use and develop their ancestral domain and ancestral lands."
Government of the Republic of Philippines
panel chair Silvestre Afable Jr. (L), adviser to the Malaysian Prime
Minister Othman Abdul Razak (C), and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
panel chair Mohagher Iqbal (R) speak during the announcement of
negotiation results between the Philippine government and Muslim
separatist negotiators in Port Dickson, about 100 kilometers from Kuala
The two also reached agreement on economic cooperation, said the statement.
Silvestre Afable, who led the Philippine government delegation, was quoted as
saying by the official Bernama news agency that the Manila government was
committed to achieving peace and "very happy that MILF had responded with
seriousness and commitment."
He predicted that they would reach their goal sooner than expected.
MILF delegation leader Mohagher Iqbal said their hope of achieving a
comprehensive and durable peace in Mindanao was "getting nearer and nearer".
He said among the issues to be discussed was a political solution between the
Malaysia has been mediating in peace talks between Manila and the
12,000-strong MILF, which has been fighting for over two decades to set up an
Islamic state in the southern third of the Philippines.
The MILF has been demanding that it be granted rights over its "ancestral
domain" or homeland which traditionally means the entire southern island of
Mindanao, where they have been fighting to establish an independent Islamic
Manila and the MILF signed a ceasefire in 2001 and opened peace talks but one
of the stumbling blocks was the rebels' demand for recognition of their