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Govt, MILF agree to create ‘Bangsamoro’ to replace ARMM

October 7, 2012 1:06pm

(Updated 4:49 p.m.) The Philippine government and the country’s largest secessionist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, have agreed to create a new political entity called Bangsamoro to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
 
Talumpati ng Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III Pangulo ng Pilipinas ukol sa balangkas ng kasunduan sa Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Dalawang henerasyon na po ang lumilipas mula noong magsimula ang hidwaan sa Mindanao. Isang siklo ng karahasang umangkin sa buhay ng mahigit isandaang libong Pilipino—hindi lamang ng mga kawal at mandirigma, kundi pati mga inosenteng sibilyang dumanak ang dugo dahil sa alitang puwede namang naiwasan.

Read the full speech in English and Filipino.
President Benigno Aquino III made this announcement on Sunday afternoon after the latest round of talks between the two parties, which started on October 2, concluded on Saturday in Malaysia.

“The ARMM is a failed experiment. Many of the people continue to feel alienated by the system, and those who feel that there is no way out will continue to articulate their grievances through the barrel of a gun. We cannot change this without structural reform,” he said in a speech delivered in Malacañang.

The President said the ARMM, which was established 23 years ago, has failed to solve problems such as war, poverty, election fraud, political patronage and warlordism.

He said the creation of the new political entity will correct these problems while upholding the country’s sovereignty.

“This framework agreement paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao. It brings all former secessionist groups into the fold; no longer does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aspire for a separate state. This means that hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning work stations, and opening doorways of opportunity for other citizens,” the President said.

The agreement was reached after 32 rounds of talks between the Philippine government and the MILF spanning nine years. 

Transparency

In his speech, President Aquino also vowed to make the process of creating the Bangsamoro political entity as transparent as possible.

He said the details of the framework agreement reached by the Philippine government and the MILF will be published in its entirety on the government’s official gazette to enable full public scrutiny.

“Nakalahad po ang lahat, at wala kaming tangkang magkubli o maglihim. Sinuri po namin nang maigi ang kasunduang ito; balanse ang ating naabot,” he said.

He added that the law establishing the Bangsamoro political entity “will go through the full process of legislation in Congress” and will be subject to a plebiscite among the people who will be affected by the legislation.

“Itinatama nito ang mali, at naglalagay ng mga mekanismo upang hindi na maulit ang nangyari sa nakaraan,” he said.

Aquino added that the national government will still be responsible for national defense and security, and that the agreement will not conflict with the principle that the Philiippines remains one nation and one people.

Also, he said the Bangsamoro will be assured of fair taxation, revenues and share of the national patrimony.

In 2008, during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the government’s peace efforts with the MILF were jeopardized after the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional and barred the signing of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) between the two parties.

The high court struck down the MOA-AD, which would have created the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, due to a failure to consult stakeholders, including communities that would have been affected by the agreement.

This map shows the areas that will be covered by the Bangsamoro political entity once it is created by law and approved by a plebiscite. Map by Wayne Manuel

Expanded territory

Under the framework agreement, the Bangsamoro political entity’s territory will cover ARMM’s present geographical area, Cotabato City, Isabela City, and the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte.

Certain barangays from Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap towns in Cotabato whose residents agreed to be part of ARMM during a plebiscite in 2001 will also be part of Bangsamoro, based on the framework agreement.

The agreement also states that contiguous areas can choose to form part of Bangsamoro’s territory via a resolution from their local governments or a petition of at least 10 percent of all qualified voters in the area submitted two months before the ratification of the law creating the new political entity.

The government and the MILF agreed that the Bangsamoro will have a ministerial form of government.

The government's chief negotiator Marvic Leonen told GMA News via sms that the Bangsamoro entity will "start fresh with a new mandate from all parts of its proposed core territory."

"The law that will create it will be the product of an all-Bangsamoro Transition Commission," Leonen continued. "Much of the framework agreement is about inclusive processes rather than defining specific outcomes."

The agreement further states that the MILF “shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use.”

The law creating Bangsamoro, which will be called the "Bangsamoro Basic Law," will be drafted by a 15-member transition commission. The composition of this panel will be agreed upon by the Philippine government and the MILF. — LBG/BM/HS, GMA News
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