Three weeks of fighting in Zamboanga between Philippine government forces and a different Muslim separatist group in September last year killed at least 203 people and delayed peace talks.
“The MNLF has demonstrated its capability to make trouble,” Banlaoi said, referring to the Moro National Liberation Front headed by Nur Misuari, an ex-ARMM governor. “It can undermine the peace dividends; it can spoil the whole process and even hijack the agenda of the new Bangsamoro government.”
Benito Lim, political science professor at Ateneo de Manila University, called the program a short-term arrangement that does not guarantee long-term peace.
An earlier agreement signed with Misuari’s MNLF in 1996 collapsed partly because it “failed to put post-conflict rebuilding mechanisms in place,” Teresita Deles, Aquino’s peace adviser, said in an interview in July last year.
Aquino has asked Philippine lawmakers to pass legislation this year creating Bangsamoro, setting the stage for an autonomous Muslim region before his six-year term ends in 2016.
“Our legislators will take on the crucial role of enacting the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Deles said in a statement on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur.
“It has been a difficult road getting to here and we know that the path ahead will continue to be fraught with challenges,” Deles said. “In a world looking for peaceful solutions to all troubles, we are grateful that we have found ours.”
Manila will grant amnesty to Muslim guerrillas who are facing or have been convicted on rebellion charges under the newly signed peace pact, Deles said yesterday.
Deles said the amnesty, which still need congressional approval, would only cover MILF fighters and exclude guerrillas who broke off from the group and continue to endanger peace.
Additional reporting by AP