Arroyo wants rebellions crushed

Philippines president wants separatist groups wiped out before she steps down.

    The military has stepped up its offensive against Abu Sayyaf fighters in the country's south [Reuters]

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    "The Muslims of the Philippines want autonomy and equal rights - democracy has failed them so they have taken up arms"

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    The communists suspended peace talks in 2004, accusing the government of instigating their inclusion on US and European terror lists.
     

    The government has opened talks and has a cease-fire agreement with the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

    The president's comments come as the military is stepping up its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf on two southern islands where around 55 troops and dozens of fighters have been killed since July.

    Arroyo said the armed forces "must evolve a strategy of rapid conclusion to address rebellion".

    She said the government would use "hard and soft power," a combination of military strength and efforts to win over rebels through economic development, social services and infrastructure.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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