AU gives $6 million for MILF-PH agreement

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The Australian government on Monday announced a $6-million grant to support the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

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On Saturday, the Philippine government and the MILF signed the last and most contentious annex of the comprehensive peace agreement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Australian government lauded the signing of the Annex of Normalization, which will disarm the 11,000-strong MILF army.

“Australian support will continue, with funding of $6 million over the next three years committed through our aid program, to support the peace process and boost institutional capacity to implement the peace agreement,” Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.

The Australian government provided aid in the peace process, which includes technical assistance to the Office of the Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process (OPAPP).

It also funded the World Bank and the United Nations to assist parties to finalize the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro.

“This support will continue, with almost half of the broader Australian aid program currently focused in Mindanao, working in areas such as education, economic development and disaster risk reduction,” Australian Ambassador to Manila Bill Tweddell said in the same statement.

“I commend the political leadership of President Aquino, who has prioritized this agreement to bring peace to Mindanao,” he added.

The two sides are now gearing up for the signing of a comprehensive agreement, which will elect the Bangsamoro Assembly and establish the new autonomous Bangsamoro replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in 2016.

Reports said the decades-old battle in Mindanao has claimed more than 120,000 lives and millions more displaced.

“We recognize the work that needs to be done in Mindanao,” Tweddell said.

“We stand with the Filipino people in our commitment to the long term stability and development of the region.”

The congress is set to review the basic law for the Bangsamoro once the comprehensive agreement is signed.

The law will need to be ratified by the people in the newly created region.

“Today is a great step on the path toward a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Mindanao,” Tweddell said. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

 

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