Philippine president signs Muslim self-rule in south into law

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gives a warm welcome to Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari during a meeting at the Malacañan Palace

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed legislation creating a new Muslim autonomous region aimed at settling almost half a century of Muslim unrest in the south, where troops crushed an attempt previous year by Islamic State group-linked militants to turn a city into a stronghold.

The new political entity, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), will have greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, Parliament and justice system.

The BOL, which is the result of decades-long peace talks, institutionalizes provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, the 2014 peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"This is to announce that the president has just signed the BOL into law", presidential spokesman Harry Roque said today (Thursday, July 26).

The historic signing of the BOL, however, did not happen as it became "collateral damage" to leadership issues in the House of Representatives. This means 75% of the national internal revenue collection would go to the Bangsamoro, and 25% to the central government. This is equivalent to 50 billion pesos for the entire implementation.




Under former president Benigno Aquino III, deliberations on bills of what would have become the Bangsamoro Basic Law were stopped after a botched police operation in 2015, known as the Mamasapano massacre. The deal was negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim rebel group in the south, although about half a dozen smaller IS-linked radical groups remain a threat in the region, the homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

The law has an opt-in provision, allowing areas adjacent to the region to join the Bangsamoro, with a petition of at least 10% of their voters. "Our people must be consulted", he told ANC's Early Edition. "It saps the morale or the morale of dedicated and honest government workers", he said.

"All we need to do is to find ways to replicate for other regions the salient points of the BOL-and to a greater degree, preserving and respecting the people's culture, history and faith", she said. This will be done in three phases.

He said the passage of the National Land Use Act is needed "to put in place a national land use policy that will address our competing land requirements for food, housing, businesses and environmental conservation".

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