Asia - Pacific

Philippines: MILF thanks Duterte for autonomy poll

Moro Islamic Liberation Front hails establishment of transitional committee to govern newly formed autonomous region

Sena Güler   | 20.02.2019
Philippines: MILF thanks Duterte for autonomy poll Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Ankara

By Ahmet Furkan Mercan and Sena Guler

ANKARA

Fresh off a successful referendum for an autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines, a group which fought hard for autonomy thanked the nation’s leadership for advancing their goal.

“We would like to express our gratitude to [Philippines President Rodrigo] Duterte for believing in the legitimate demand of Bangsamoro in the establishment of our identity and right to govern in a real autonomous structure,” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said in a written statement.

A two-round referendum was held on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6 in southern Mindanao to grant the Moro Muslims autonomy.

The Philippines' landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) was officially ratified on Jan. 25 following the first round, which granted comprehensive autonomy to Moro Muslims, ending decades of conflict between the government and the Moro Muslims.

The second round allowed the new autonomous region to be expanded to surrounding areas based on voter input.

The statement from the MILF came before the appointment of Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) members by Duterte, and it highlighted that steps in the post-referendum process should be maintained.

“The new political formation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will rise,” the statement said, adding that it would be the fruit of a decades-long process.

Duterte is expected to soon appoint members of the interim government to govern the new autonomous region for three years.

Autonomous government

In the new region, courts of Islamic law will be established, and the Philippines’ central government will transfer its administrative authority in Mindanao to the Bangsamoro government.

The waters in the Bangsamoro region will be simultaneously managed by the national government as well as the Bangsamoro government.

The autonomous government will be responsible for the management of energy resources.

Muslims will be free in their internal affairs, but bound to the Philippines in foreign policy, with some flexibility.

In addition, former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and MILF fighters will be eligible to join official armed forces.

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