The leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) welcomed confirmation today by the European Union (EU) of its continued support for promoting stability, peace and development in the region of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines.

On 23-24 May 2016, senior leaders from the MILF met representatives of the EU during a visit to Brussels, to discuss the latest developments and prospects in the peace process between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines.

The visit also sought to raise awareness around the importance of peace in the Philippines to national, regional and global security, as well as the pressing development needs in Mindanao.

The visit was organised jointly by the EU and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), a private diplomacy and conflict mediation organisation.

The MILF delegation was led by its Chairman, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF Peace Panel Chair and chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, and MILF member, Abhoud Syed Lingga.

The MILF delegation met representatives of the European Commission, including those from the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development and the External Action Service, to request continued support from the EU and the rest of the international community for the peace process, and to discuss how best to address current development needs in Mindanao.

In March 2014, after seventeen years of talks, a final peace agreement – the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) – was signed by the Government of the Philippines and the MILF, the country’s largest rebel group. The CAB seeks to establish a new autonomous regional government in the south of the Philippines.

Unfortunately, progress on the implementation of the Agreement has been slow, and this, as well as limited progress on development in Mindanao, has resulted in tensions rising again in the southern region.

“The visit of the MILF leadership to the EU comes at a crucial time. It raises awareness in Europe about the importance of the peace process in Mindanao as well the risks which its stalling poses to sustainable development and (inter)national security,” said Gunner Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Action Service.

“Finding a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict in Mindanao should be a priority for all of us,” he added.

HD has been supporting the peace process between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines since 2007. Camilo Miguel Montesa, HD’s Country Representative in the Philippines, highlighted that the MILF will “continue to demonstrate its commitment to peace both in Mindanao and abroad”.