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Philippines Can’t Agree With Muslim Rebels on Wealth-Sharing

Philippines Fails to Agree With Muslim Rebels on Wealth-Sharing
A Filipino Muslim waves a Philippine flag, left, alongside a Muslim flag at a peace rally near the presidential palace as a peace pact is signed between the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim insurgency in Mindanao, in Manila, on Oct. 15, 2012. Photographer: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

The Philippines failed to resolve a deadlock with Muslim rebels in the latest round of talks over a revenue-sharing plan that’s crucial to sealing the end of a four-decade insurgency in the country’s south.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is seeking 75 percent of revenue from any energy-resource development, while the government wants an equal split, Ghadzali Jaafar, the rebels’ vice chairman, said in an interview aired on ABS-CBN News today after talks this week in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

The continued deadlock reflects the challenge President Benigno Aquino’s government faces in turning a framework agreement with the rebels, signed last year, into lasting peace on the southern island of Mindanao. Ending the insurgency, which has killed as many as 200,000 people, could help unlock mineral deposits worth an estimated $312 billion.

“The government is not backing down because it wants a position that will be accepted by lawmakers later on,” Benito Lim, a political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said by telephone. “It would be a waste” if Congress refuses to pass a law granting autonomy to areas in southern Philippines, he said.

The two sides agreed to keep talking, Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters in Manila today. The Philippines is still seeking a compromise, government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a separate interview with ABS-CBN.

“We’re committed to the process and ready to go into all the details of the text we’re trying to put together,” she told ABS-CBN. “It will be unfortunate if further delays will happen.”

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