Philippines okays Bangsamoro State
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MANILA – After years of negotiation, the Philippine government has finally agreed to the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro political entity for the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In a deal signed by government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen and his MILF counterpart, Mohagher Iqbal, in Kuala Lumpur on April 24, both parties agreed that the new autonomous political entity will have a "ministerial form of government."
The powers to be reserved for the national government are as follows: defense and external security; foreign policy; common market and global trade; coinage and monetary policy; citizenship and naturalization; and postal service. The power to enter into economic agreements, however, will be transferred to the new Bangsamoro entity.
The document signed was "not yet the final peace agreement," but it will serve as a "framework for the eventual signing of a peace agreement," Leonen said. The talks on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration will be tabled next for negotiations.
The MILF had earlier asked for the powers to establish civil service, electoral, educational, legislative and legal institutions, police and internal security forces, and judicial and correctional systems.
Both sides also agreed that the future Bangsamoro entity must be given the power to "create its own sources of revenue and to have a just share in the revenues generated through the exploration, development or utilization of natural resources."
The Bangsamoro entity will also have powers over the Shariah justice system.
"The autonomous political entity envisioned is a secular political unit, existing within the Republic of the Philippines, located within its territory, and subject to its sovereignty as a State," Leonen said.
"The government of this autonomous political entity shall also ensure guarantees of human rights and liberties for its inhabitants, such as religious freedom, the right of women to meaningful political participation, and freedom from ethnic, religious or sectarian harassment, in addition to the rights already enjoyed."
Leonen said the government and the MILF achieved a breakthrough with the signing of a document containing at least 10 consensus points.
He said the 10 common points were "commitments that can be properly accommodated by our current legal and political realities."