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The Bangsamoro agreement not to be done completely yet

The autonomous region agreed upon will be called “Bangsamoro” and will replace the Moro Muslim Autonomous Region

By Mahmut Osmanoğlu | 17 Oct 2012

The fight of Mindanao Muslims against Ferdinand Magellan started in 1521 and continued, first against Spaniards, then against Americans, and since 1946 they have been fighting the Filipino government.

The Muslims did not want to be a part of the Philippine state but their efforts led nowhere. The Moro National Liberation Front was created in 1969 and the Muslims started armed fight for an independent Mindanao.

In 1976 a peace agreement was signed with the support of Lybia, but the Philippine government just played for time and did not find any real solution to the problem. Later on the government agreed with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) upon creating the Moro Muslim Autonomous region, but this did not work as well.

The Philippine government and the Mindanao Muslims have now signed yet another peace agreement. But this time the addressee of the government is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The autonomous region agreed upon will be called “Bangsamoro” and will replace the Moro Muslim Autonomous Region, enlarging both the administration and the governed territory.

Defense and security, foreign policy, common market and global trade, coinage and money policy, citizenship, migration and mail services of the new autonomous region will continue being under the Philippine government's control.

It is yet too early to suggest what effects will the agreement have on the Mindanao Muslims. The given agreement surely does not meet the independence needs but it is more than mere autonomy. It needs to be said here that there are serious obstacles in the way.

These obstacles may be coming from the Philippine Government and other Mindanao Muslims. First of all, the process must not be diluted again by the Philippine government. Just like it happened with the previous autonomous region, certain circles of the Philippine society may bring out the issue of changing the constitution in order for the agreement to come into force. Certain circles of the Philippine society have already started to express the need for constitutional change for the Bangsamoro autonomy.

The process may be suspended as a result of probable changes in the Philippine government. In this respect it is highly important to establish a transitional government until 2016. Previously, when the process was prolonged, serious suspends took place.

Other Mindanao movements' approach to the peace agreement is as important as that of the Philippine Government and Administration.

As the Moro Muslim Autonomous Region signed the agreement with the Philippine Government, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) feels left out of the process, sees the previous agreements signed as canceled and is therefore against the new peace agreement.

Along with the announcement of the framework agreement, the MNLF qualified it as one more step forward on the way of sowing discord within the Mindanao Muslims and warned that the answer to this agreement will be a “riot” leading to war.

Such organizations as Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Ebu Seyyfa should be mentioned here, as, being more marginalized than the MNLF or MILF, they nevertheless support the idea of independence.

If no compromise is reached by the MNLF and other groups supporting independence, a civil war in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is also highly probable.

As the MILF leader Murat Ibrahim has put it: “the peace agreement alone will not put an end to the Moro problems; in order for peace to be reached there is still much work to be done”.


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