Philippine rebels set peace terms

Muslim separatist MILF first wants its struggle placed on the country's national agenda.

    The conflict in southern Philippines has displaced thousands of mostly poor farmers [AFP]

    Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from Talayan in Mindanao, says thousands of people, mostly farmers, have been living in evacuation centres since last August, surviving on handouts under harsh conditions.

    The MILF formed as a breakaway group in 1977 after splitting from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

    The MNLF subsequently entered into negotiations with the government in Manila and signed an agreement a decade later relinquishing its stated goal of independence.

    The 12,000-strong MILF has, however, continued the struggle for political autonomy, becoming one of four groups that are fighting for a separate Muslim state in the southern Philippines.

    MILF members held

    In another development, a Philippine court sentenced three MILF members to life imprisonment on Friday for multiple bombings in Manila eight years ago that killed 22 people and wounded nearly 100 more.

    "This is a triumph of justice," Leopoldo Bataoil, police chief in Metro Manila, said after the court's verdict was handed down, adding it would boost the government's efforts to fight terrorism.

    Among those found guilty was Mukhlis Yunos, head of the MILF special operations group, who was caught wearing a disguise at an airport on the southern island of Mindanao in 2003.

    According to court records, Yunos and his group received instructions and money from leaders of Jemaah Islamiah, Southeast Asia's regional armed Muslim network, to bomb selected targets in Manila, including a light rail network and a commuter bus.

    Five blasts occured, in all, on December December 30, 2000.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.