Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Conclusion of the Mindanao Peace Negotiation
1. Japan heartily welcomes that the negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro concerning the Mindanao peace process has been successfully concluded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
2. Having a firm belief that the peace in Mindanao will lead to the peace and stability in this region, Japan has extended its support to the peace process for years. It is great pleasure that Japan contributed to the progress of the peace process.
3. Japan sincerely commends the efforts made by the Government of the Philippines, the MILF, and the Government of Malaysia as the facilitator. Japan strongly hopes that the parties concerned will continue their efforts to steadily implement the transition process including the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority towards the realization of the Bangsamoro Government.
4. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced during his visit to the Philippines in July last year, Japan will strengthen its support to the Mindanao peace process through the assistance for community development, capacity-building in transition period, sustainable economic development in Mindanao, and other methods.
References: The Mindanao Peace Process
(1) The peace negotiation 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 operating. As a result, progress was made in the negotiations toward a peace agreement, but in August 2008 domestic discussions surrounding the issue of most concern, the resolution of land issues, ended in failure and reignited armed conflict. Subsequently, the formation of the International Contact Group (ICG) in December 2009 led to the recommencement of peace talks in February 2010. The peace talks continued under the Aquino Administration, which was inaugurated in June 2010, and in October 2012 the Framework Agreement was signed. Subsequently, following agreement on four annexes (Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Power Sharing, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, and Normalization), peace negotiation was concluded. Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro will be signed in the near future.
(2) Based on this agreement, the peace process will enter the transition process toward establishing the Bangsamoro Government (autonomous government). Specifically, the goal is to launch the autonomous government in 2016, after formulating the Bangsamoro Basic Law based on this agreement, holding a referendum in order to demarcate a jurisdictional domain, abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and establishing the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
(3) The Government of Japan has contributed to the advancement of the peace process and to the reconstruction and development of the Mindanao region through efforts that include: (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 (Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD)); and (iii) participation in the International Contact Group (ICG) that provides advice by attending peace talks as an observer. Additionally, on August 4, 2011, President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim visited Japan and had informal discussions on the outskirts of Tokyo, aimed at resolving various issues in the Mindanao Peace Process.
(4) When Prime Minister Abe made an official visit to the Philippines in July 2013, he announced “four initiatives in diplomacy with the Philippines,” including “strengthening assistance for the Mindanao Peace Process.” Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan’s intention to maintain and strengthen support in three areas: (i) community development in Mindanao (the construction of schools, clinics, wells, training facilities etc.), (ii) human resources development in the transition process; and (iii) economic development toward sustainable development (cooperation focused on agriculture, mining and manufacturing, large-scale infrastructure development etc.)