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Philippines' leader visits rebel stronghold

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines--Philippine President Benigno Aquino paid a historic visit Monday to Muslim rebel territory in a bid to speed up efforts to end one of Asia's longest and deadliest insurgencies. It was the first peace mission by a president to MILF's powerbase.

Four months after his government agreed on a roadmap with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for a final peace deal by 2016, Aquino traveled to the insurgents' stronghold in the far south as a confidence-building measure.

“We have just three years and four months left. We have to speed up everything we are doing now to make this (peace) permanent,” Aquino said on a stage alongside MILF chief Murad Ebrahim just outside the rebels' main base.

The deadline for peace coincides with the end of Aquino's six-year term as president. The constitution limits him to one term and there are concerns that the next president may not be able, or may not want, to pursue the peace agenda.

Aquino expressed confidence that the negotiations would yield significant results within weeks, and that a final peace pact could be achieved by 2016.

The key event on Monday, held just outside MILF's heavily fortified Camp Darapanan, was the launch of joint development projects.

1 Comment
February 12, 2013    ekim.dongz@
The government must be sincere enough to solve bangsamoro problem because historically they win Mindanao to Spaniards hundreds years ago. The Marcos government when he declared martial law he also declared to conquer Mindanao by organizing Ilaga group by land grabbing the Ancestral land of Muslim in Mindanao. The chaotic condition is lunch during 1972 war by killing innocent Muslims especially in Main land Mindanao (Cotabato Empire). This is the reason why Bangsamoro created rebel soldiers to fight the right to identity and live peacefully without racial discrimination to Christian settlers in Mindanao.
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Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, is greeted by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels during his visit to Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat township, Maguindanao province in southern Philippines, Monday, Feb. 11.

(AP)

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