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ICC Note: There has long been trouble between the Philippine government and the minority Muslim population. The government is resuming peace talks with the rebels again and the creation of a separate Muslim homeland will be further discussed.

For Entire Article Click Here:The Manila Times International

By Al Jacinto

The Manila Times International (03/24/06) Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels resumed peace talks Tuesday with Philippine government negotiators in Kuala Lumpur, MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said here yesterday.

The resumption of the peace talks bodes well for peace in Mindanao. The central government’s and the MILF’s plans to uplift the Muslim Filipinos in the region can be carried out once a peace agreement is signed. Foreign countries, including the richest Arab countries, the United States and the members of the European Union have pledged to pour at least US$500 million for the development of Mindanao.

Kabalu said that in the two-day talks issues on the so-called Muslim ancestral domain will be discussed. “This is just a ‘fine-tuning’ of all proposals previously agreed upon by the peace negotiators,” he said.

Kabalu said the two sides expect to sign a formal agreement on the ancestral domain issue anytime soon, and then move forward to the last leg of the peace process, which is to find a just and lasting solution to the secessionist problem in Mindanao.

“We are almost done and we are optimistic about the outcome of the peace process,” Kabalu told The Manila Times.

Ancestral domain refers to the MILF demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. In September the government and rebel peace negotiators signed several agreements centered on ancestral domain—its concept, territories and resources, and how the MILF shall govern these areas.