Kota Kinabalu 9/10/2012: The State Government has welcomed the announcement of a framework agreement for peace between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman said the much awaited initiative would pave the way for peace, according the Bangsamoro their civil rights, a new way of life and prospect for a better future.
"This is indeed a historic moment and a dawn of a new era for the Bangsamoro. It is a reflection of the commitment towards ending decades of violence and give the Bangsamoro people a chance to live and work on their own land in peace,"he said.
Musa who is also the State security chairman also commended both President Benigno Aquino and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for their steadfast commitment to the peace deal.
"As a close neighbour of the Philippines, we in Sabah are proud that Malaysia played a role in facilitating the talks. We look forward to seeing the objectives of this deal achieved," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, hoped it would result in positive development in Malaysia and Sabah as well, particularly in regards to the problem of illegal immigrants (PATI) here.
"We are also very excited about this development, which may well end a decades-long insurgency in our neighbouring country and hope that this would be followed by a decrease in the numbers of immigrants in our country.
"We hope the peace process will run as smooth as can be so that immigrants in Sabah would be more relieved to go back once there is increasing peace and harmony there," he said. He said, hopefully the development would also leave more jobs vacant that would then be fill by people of Sabah and automatically reduce the unemployment level in this country towards achieveing a fully developed nation by the year 2020.
Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah, Immigration and Electoral Reform Bureau, Dr Chong Eng Leong said both the Federal and State governments now have no reason not to close all the Refugee Resettlement Camps throughout Sabah by year end.
"All the estimated 84,000 IMM13 holders must surrender the yellow IMM13 cards and be treated like other foreign migrants.
They should be issued with temporary entry visa before they are sent back to their country unless in possession of work permits.
The agreement would see the establishment of a new semi-autonomous Muslim area in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao, which the 12,000-strong MILF regards as its ancestral homeland.
Aquino in a national televised address said the framework agreement was expected to be inked on Oct 15, "which paves the way for a final and enduring peace in Mindanao."
Thousands of Filipinos fled Mindanao during the height of the insurgency seeking refuge in nearby countries, particularly Sabah.
Despite not being a member to the ratification of the Geneva Refugees Convention, Malaysia accepted the refugees and gave them shelter as well as issued them with the IMM13 documents based on humanitarian grounds.
However, since they had been staying in Sabah for a long time it had made the situation complicated especially with the huge presence of Filipino illegal immigrants in the State.