Visit to Japan of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Negotiating Panel
- The members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Negotiating Panel, including Chairman Mohagher IQBAL, will visit Japan from March 17 to March 23 as guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan. The panel is engaged in peace negotiations with the Philippine government.
- The conflict between the Philippine government and Islamic rebel groups in Mindanao, located in the southern part of the Philippines, has continued for more than forty years. The peace talks have recently made substantial progress toward the realization of a final peace agreement. In October 2012, the Philippine government and the MILF signed the Framework Agreement on the Mindanao Peace Process and agreed on the creation of a new political entity called Bangsamoro in 2016.
- Japan has actively contributed to the Mindanao peace process. Since 2006, Japan has dispatched development experts to the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and intensively implemented economic cooperation projects in conflict-affected areas that can directly benefit the grassroots communities (J-BIRD). Japan has been an observer in the peace talks since participating in the International Contact Group (ICG) in 2009. In August 2011, Japan hosted an informal meeting on the outskirts of Tokyo between President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim.
- It is expected that the visit of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel members can help finalize the Mindanao peace process.
References: Mindanao Peace Talks
(1) The peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) began in 2001 with Malaysia acting as the facilitator. In 2003 a cease-fire agreement was reached, and in 2004 the International Monitoring Team (IMT), headed by Malaysia, began operations in Mindanao's conflict-affected areas. As a result, progress was made in the negotiations toward a peace agreement, but in August 2008 discussions surrounding the resolution of land issues ended in failure and reignited armed conflict. Subsequently, the formation of the International Contact Group (ICG) in December 2009 sparked the recommencement of peace talks in February 2010. The peace talks are continuing under the Aquino Administration and the Government of the Philippines and the MILF signed the Framework Agreement on the Mindanao Peace in October 2012.
(2) Based on the recognition that peace in Mindanao will serve regional peace and stability, Japan is contributing to the reconstruction and development of the Mindanao region through: (i) the dispatch of development experts to the Social and Economic Development Section of the IMT; (ii) the concentrated implementation of economic cooperation projects such as extending Grassroots Grant Assistance for Human Security in former conflict-affected areas (J-BIRD); and (iii) participation in the International Contact Group (ICG) that is providing advice by attending the peace talks as an observer, among others. On August 4, 2011, President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim visited Japan, where they held informal discussions and agreed on the importance of resolving the various issues on the Mindanao peace process.
- (* The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original press release in Japanese.)