Filipino Rebels Hand Over Weapons, Retire Fighters to Boost Peace Talks

Filipino Rebels Hand Over Weapons, Retire Fighters to Boost Peace Talks

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Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels by Keith Bacongco

A rebel group in the Philippines has retired 145 of their fighters and surrendered a cache of firearms to demonstrate its commitment toward peace.

The move is a first step toward fulfilling a 2014 cease-fire agreement to end decades of fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government – a conflict that killed more than 120,000 people.

At a ceremony attended by President Benigno Aquino III, the weapons were presented to an international group set up to monitor the peace process.

The reduction of troops along with 75 firearms and rocket launchers represents only a fraction of the group’s strength, but the move is seen as an important step.saffron-Rumi-Spice-Co

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“They have to show that both parties are serious at getting to peace, that despite the setbacks, they are really intent on proceeding with the measures that they have agreed,” political analyst Edmund Tayao told Al Jazeera.

Despite recent unrest, both the rebel group and President Aquino are pushing for legislation to formally recognize as autonomous the Muslim southern region over which the fighting was waged.

(READ more from Al Jazeera) – Photos by Keith Bacongco and Geneva Call, CC

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