The end of US-puppet Ferdinand E. Marcos’s 20-year rule has not brought any relief to the great majority of Philippines population. Manila’s continuos war against Moro Muslims and communist insurgency (NPA) has drained country’s economy. The 2011 military budget stands at US$2.3 billion. According Jane’s July 8, 2011 report, the communist insurgency is “the primary medium- and long-term threat to the archipelago”.
Economic hardships have turned Philipinos, both in the country and abroad against the current regime in Manila.
President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III flew unannounced to Tokyo on Thursday and met for two hours with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman, Ibrahim Al Haj Murad, in what appeared to be a major breakthrough in the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and Moro Islamic Resistance.
Murad agreed to meet Aquino on later’s request. Aquino III is the only son of the former Philippines’ president Corazon C. Aquino. He was sworn in as 15th president of Philippines last year.
Japan’s foreign ministry, which hosted the meeting, issued a statement expressing support for the peace process, hoping the two sides will reach the final peace agreement at an early stage. It also pledged support for development assistance in conflict-affected areas.
The two sides will hold another round of talks on Aug. 20-22 in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. The government is due to issue a counter-proposal to Muslim demand to set up a “state within a state” structure in Muslim provinces.
Zainudin Malang, head of a civil society group on the southern island of Mindanao, said the meeting was “a shot in the arm” for a peace process which is steadily losing public support due to delays.
“Before this meeting, the level of confidence among Muslims here on the peace process has been steadily going down, but the Tokyo meeting has suddenly revived people’s interest and trust on the government to pursue peace talks,” Malang said.
Muslims still make 97% of the Southern Philippines’ former Muslim Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao and Ranao which were occupied by the Spanish crusaders in 1521 CE. Since that time Muslims have been fighting their Spanish, American and modern Christian-fascist colonialists in Manila. It is the longest Muslim resistance followed by Islamic resistance in Chechnya.
Both the US and Israeli military and security officials are involved in training Philippines army and police to fight Muslim resistance groups and the anti-government communist rebels. Philipinos living in the US have an umbrella of 14 Philipino organizations called Bayan USA, which is considered ‘anti-Semitic’ for group’s criticism of Israel and US military presence in Philippines, South Korea, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East