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Philippines to set up fund for Muslim war victims

The Philippines will set up a compensation fund for thousands of people displaced by deadly fighting between troops and Muslim rebels in 2008, President Benigno Aquino's peace adviser said today.

world Updated: Jul 01, 2010 13:51 IST

The Philippines will set up a compensation fund for thousands of people displaced by deadly fighting between troops and Muslim rebels in 2008, President Benigno Aquino's peace adviser said on Thursday.

Potential donors from the international community have already expressed interest in contributing to the pool of money, although the specifics of the fund have yet to be worked out, Teresita Deles told reporters.

"(The fund) will be spent on housing, immediate livelihood and of course on health problems still lingering and whatever else is needed so they have a place to go home to," Deles said.

"There is a lot of international support going to this area. Some of them (the donors) have already spoken to me."

Deles was speaking to reporters on her first full day in her new position, after Aquino and his administration took office on Wednesday.

Deles said the immediate beneficiaries would be the estimated 25,000 families still displaced after separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels launched attacks across southern Mindanao island in 2008.

The attacks were carried out in retaliation against a Supreme Court decision that rejected a proposed deal that would have given the group control over territories it claims as part of its "ancestral domain".

More than 700,000 people were displaced at the height of the fighting, triggering a humanitarian crisis.

About 400 civilians and fighters from both sides were also killed.

The 12,000-strong MILF has been waging an insurgency to establish an independent Islamic state in Mindanao since 1978.

Aquino's predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, had engaged the MILF in peace talks but failed to reach an agreement with the rebels during nearly 10 years in power.

Aquino has blamed Arroyo for the 2008 violence, saying the collapse of the proposed land deal was a direct result of behind-the-scenes negotiations that excluded leaders from the communities affected by the agreement.

Deles said she was re-organising peace negotiating panels for the MILF insurgency, as well as for the decades-old communist rebellion also plaguing the country.

"I want as early as possible to give the clear message that we are serious in the negotiating table, and the first sign of this is the names we will give out," she said. "We will need great creativity, seriousness in crafting peace agreements."