Decades of violence are hopefully put to rest between the government and Muslim separatists writes Asia Sentinel.
The signing of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Thursday is a major triumph for President Benigno S. Aquino III, a landmark accord that hopefully will put an end to one of the longest-running armed conflicts in Southeast Asia.
“I will not let peace be snatched from my people again. Not now when we have already undertaken the most significant steps to achieve it,” Aquino said at the signing ceremony.
The agreement must still be ratified by the Philippine Congress. Senate President Franklin Drilon issued a public statement vowing to make sure that the measure, which he said would hopefully be passed by the end of the year, would withstand judicial scrutiny. With strong political backing in the Congress following 2012 elections, Aquino is expected to win ratification.
Along with the historic passage of the country’s first-ever birth control measure over the last-ditch objections of the Catholic Church – still pending before the country’s Supreme Court – the signing of what is called the Bangsamoro Agreement represents one of Aquino’s major triumphs.
Aquino’s administration has also gone a long way towards cleaning up the corruption ridden government contracting process as well as the election commission and engineered the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. Appointments, while leaving a good deal to be desired in some areas, are regarded as honest, especially for Ombudsman, Justice Secretary, Auditor and Corona’s replacement.
While the pace has been slow and the country has been dogged by natural disasters and a massive scandal over legislative discretionary funds known as the “Pork Barrel,” GDP growth has been healthy, gross international reserves are at an all-time high and its business outsource processing industry has topped India’s to become the world’s no. 1, all of which have earned the country the endearment of international investors and resulted in credit upgrades by Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s.