Philippines Muslim leaders 'tired of waiting' for Bangsamoro law

Philippines Muslim leaders 'tired of waiting' for Bangsamoro law
From Al Jazeera - March 13, 2018

Leaders of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group have warned of a growing frustration in the southern island of Mindanao over the delay in the implementation of a 2014 peace agreement it signed with the government.

Ghazali Jaafar, vice chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told a constitutional reform panel on Tuesday, that Muslim groups are "tired of waiting" to achieve real autonomy for their people.

"This is precisely why some of our former comrades bolted from us, and how they are fighting with us because they are frustrated, so to speak, with the way the government is handling the negotiation," Jaafar, who is one of the main authors of a proposed Muslim autonomy law, was quoted as saying by local news.

The senior MILF leader's statement comes as government troops launched an offensive against the breakaway armed group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) last week, killing at least 44 of its fighters and wounding 26 others in Mindanao's Maguindanao province.

For Ghazali, the proposed law is "the most civilised and peaceful way" to end the decades-long conflict in the country's south, and prevent more clashes, such as those against the BIFF, from breaking out.

"We are fed up, to be truthful to you," he said. "We are tired of corruption, we are tired of nepotism and all things that hold back our Muslim homeland."

He pleaded to give the Muslim minorities a chance to catch up with the rest of the country in terms of economic progress.

Stalled law

President Rodrigo Duterte has committed to support the autonomy law, and promised to press Congress to approve it.


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