Australia, Switzerland join other governments in lauding PH-MILF peace pact

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MANILA, Philippines – The governments of Australia and Switzerland joined other nations in welcoming the preliminary peace agreement reached between the Philippine government and the Moro-Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), saying that it brought hope that the decades-long conflict in Mindanao could be drawing to a close.

“This agreement is testament to the commitment of both the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to the concept of a peaceful settlement,” Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a statement Monday.

“I particularly acknowledge the leadership of Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, who has been a strong advocate for peace,” Carr added.

On Sunday,  Aquino announced the drafting of a framework agreement for the setting up of a new autonomous region to be called Bangsamoro that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a move which is seen as a major breakthrough toward ending decades of insurgency in the region.

Carr, in his statement, also noted Australia’s support to peace and security in Mindanao through its aid program, which he said focused on improving the quality of and access to basic education across 3,000 schools, including Islamic pre-schools in conflict-affected areas.

Meanwhile, the Switzerland’s Department of Affairs issued a similar statement welcoming the peace agreement, saying it was hopeful that parties would adhere to the provisions of the framework “in view of the establishment of the Bangsamoro in the region of Mindanao.”

“Switzerland further hopes that the conclusion of this agreement will contribute towards the resolution of other internal conflicts and positively influence the stability in the country,” it said in the statement.

The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan had earlier pledged their support for the peace deal and their continued reforms for Mindanao.

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