See More on Facebook

Politics

Duterte unveils landmark Muslim autonomy law

Will the new legislation have the power to bring peace to a region choked by decades of deadly separatist conflict.


Written by

Updated: August 8, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte unveiled legislation on Monday that grants greater autonomy to Muslims in the southern region of the country and expressed a wish that the agreement will bring an end to one of Asia’s longest-running separatist conflicts.

“I hope [the law] will finally end the decades-old conflict that is rooted in the Bangsamoro’s fight for self-determination and the recognition of their unique identity,” Duterte said during his remarks at the unveiling ceremony before presenting a copy of the law to Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The law, which is called the Bangsamoro Organic Law, was signed in late July, but has been anticipated for much longer. It is the legislative accompaniment to a 2014 peace agreement between Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, and MILF. At the time, the law stalled when the Congress refused to pass it.

Under the deal, MILF agreed to drop its bid for full independence—which has been ongoing since 1978 in a conflict that has claimed the lives of roughly 150,000 people and mired the Mindanao region in a cycle of extreme poverty—in return for the right to self-rule.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will be led initially by a transitional authority made up of former separatist fighters before eventually being governed by its own parliamentary body.

The national government will retain its police and military presence in the area and combatants—the number of armed separatist rebels is believed to be in the tens of thousands—are set to put aside their weapons in phases.

Under the new law, the region would keep 75 percent of taxes collected in the area and is set to receive an annual block grant allocation worth 5 percent of the country’s national revenues, which comes out ot around $1.1 billion.

The law also gives the region the right to its own judicial system made up of Islamic shariah courts for cases involving Muslims.

The new region replaces an earlier attempt at a semi-autonomous zone that was created by a 1996 deal with another major rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front. That deal was criticized for only benefiting a small number of people, and ultimately failed to bring about peace and development.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law has been heralded by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, as a “landmark achievement on the road to lasting peace.”

It is widely hoped that over time, the changes laid out by the law will not only bring an end the existing conflict, but will also make armed struggle less attractive for the region’s young Muslims in the future—that they will choose to fight with political, rather than military might. The success of the 2014 peace deal and this supporting law depends on that choice.

As laid out by the 2014 peace deal, the legislation must be approved by a regional plebiscite before it can be fully adopted. The referendum is expected to pass.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Quinn Libson
About the Author: Quinn Libson is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Beijing sounds warning against foreign interference at annual security forum

China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe delivers a speech at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China. China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe sounded a thinly veiled warning against the United States at a security conference in Beijing, saying that interfering in the internal affairs of others and inciting colour revolutions have led to wars and turbulence in various regions in the world. Such “reckless interference” would not foster harmonious relations, said General Wei on Monday (Oct 21) in his speech to open the conference. Beijing has blamed foreign countries, including the US, for inciting the unrest that has convulsed Hong Kong for five months. It has also


By The Straits Times
October 22, 2019

Politics

Border clash with India leaves 7 dead in Pakistan

Kashmir is becoming an untenable boiling point. At least six civilians and a Pakistani soldier were killed as Indian troops resorted to “indiscriminate and ruthless” shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), officials said on Sunday. Officials said that nine other civilians were injured, adding that this was the highest death toll in 2019 in a single day of Indian shelling from across the dividing line. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) notified through a tweet that one soldier had been martyred in the exchange of fire while two others were injured. ISPR added that in response to unprovoked ceasefire violations by India in Jura, Shahkot and Nauseri sectors, nine Indian soldiers were killed while several ot


By Dawn
October 21, 2019

Politics

Survey finds two-thirds oppose military spending

Military expenditure has become a hot button issue in Thailand. Nearly two-thirds of citizens want the government to spend more on health and social security, according to a recent Super Poll survey. Assistant Professor Noppadon Kannika, director of the Super Poll Research Centre, said 1,069 people were quizzed about the budget for fiscal 2020 currently before the House. He said 65.9 per cent felt a greater share of the budget should be allocated to health, while 64.9 per cent believe more should go to education, 59.8 per cent to job provision and another 59.8 per cent to security in the quality of life. Less support was expressed for spending on national security (54.8 per cent), transportation and road repairs (50.8 per cent) and small-medium business promotion (48.2 per cent). Asked about their political leanings, 67.2 per cent of respondents said they were “in


By The Nation (Thailand)
October 21, 2019

Politics

Hong Kong march spirals into chaos, again

Violence begets violence as more protests hits Hong Kong on the weekend. An illegal protest rally through Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui spiraled into chaos on Sunday, as protesters began to engage in acts of vandalism and arson even as the police warned of a response. Signs of trouble began to emerge towards the end of the march near the West Kowloon terminus in a now familiar pattern. Protesters were seen spraying over the MTR logo with black paint, building barricades and digging up bricks from the ground. At Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station, demonstrators tossed multiple rounds of Molotov cocktails at the station and police responded with multiple volleys of tear gas from the upper floors of the building while warning protesters over a loudspeaker to stop. Two hoses were constantly spraying water to douse the flames. A similar scene played out at the Mong Kok police station, prompting officers insid


By Asia News Network
October 21, 2019

Politics

President Joko Widodo sworn in for second term

Joko exhorts Indonesians to develop ‘new ways and values’. A few hours before he was sworn in for a second and final term in office on Sunday (Oct 20), Indonesian President Joko Widodo uploaded a new profile picture on Facebook with the caption “Let’s work together towards progress for Indonesia”. The post has since garnered more than 224,000 likes and over 19,000 comments from well-wishers congratulating him on his re-election and cheering him on to steer the country to success. At around 4pm Jakarta time (5pm Singapore time), millions of Indonesians tuned in to a live television broadcast as Mr Joko, more popularly known as Jokowi, recited his oath of office before lawmakers and regional senators that make up the People’s Consultative Assembly, or MPR, at the Parliament building. The new Vice-President, cleric Ma’ruf Amin, who replaced outgoing Mr Jusuf Kalla, also took h


By The Straits Times
October 21, 2019

Politics

‘History will take note of those who ridiculed removal of Article 370’: PM Modi in Maharashtra

PM Modi also expressed confidence that the BJP will break all victory records in the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections. Prime Minister on Thursday once again lashed out at the opposition saying that history will take note of those who mocked the abrogation of Article 370, that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. “Whenever Article 370 will be discussed in history, — the decision that was taken in the interest of the country — the people who opposed and ridiculed will be remembered,” PM Modi said while addressing a poll rally in Maharashtra’s Parli. He said the next week’s state Assembly elections were a battle between BJP’s “karyashakti” (power of development) and opposition’s “swarth shakti” (selfishness). Further targeting the Congress and NCP leaders, he wondered if “frustrated and dejected” people could do anything good for people. “A Congress


By The Statesman
October 18, 2019