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Philippine peace deal in jeopardy as Muslim rebels cry foul

Published on Aug 6, 2014 4:59 PM
Members of the elite Special Action Police walk next to an armoured vehicle as they reinforce soldiers battling Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city, in southern Philippines in this Sept 12, 2013, file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

MANILA (REUTERS) - An historic peace settlement in the southern Philippines is at risk of breaking down as Muslim rebels accuse the government of going back on its word over a proposed law to create self-rule for the war-torn region.

The two sides, who signed the deal in March to end nearly five decades of conflict, are holding urgent talks this week to try to iron out the unexpected obstacles to what had been seen as one of President Benigno Aquino’s landmark successes.

A breakdown would risk a return to violence and a blow to hopes for an economic revival for resource-rich Mindanao island as potential investors in sectors such as agriculture and mining wait on the sidelines for the peace deal to be implemented.

Large companies such as food processor Del Monte Pacific Limited, which has a pineapple plantation in Mindanao, had said they were considering expanding operations after the deal. But most major foreign companies have held back pending evidence of a lasting settlement.

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