[JURIST] The Philippine government [official website] has agreed "in principle" to give southern Muslims the authority to develop their own tax system, build their own institutions, and write their own charter, according to a report [text] in Thursday's Philippine Daily Inquirer confirmed by an anonymous government official. The official said the government's peace panel is optimistic that a final agreement will be reached either later this year or in early 2006 to end the 40-year rebellion in the southern island of Mindanao, which has led to the deaths of nearly 120,000 people. Security analysts also expect the agreement to push out foreign militants linked to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) [BBC backgrounder], the main Muslim rebel group on the southern island. The Philippine government and the MILF met earlier this year in Malaysia but refused to discuss details of the discussions, saying only that there had been a "breakthrough" in negotiations. The government official said a final deal could mean changes for the document drafted in those earlier meetings. Reuters has more.