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On Monday, October 15, 2012, the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Framework Agreement that outlines the general features of the political settlement between the two parties. It puts together the points of consensus reached during the series of talks between the government and the MILF since the ceasefire agreement in 1997. The deal defines the nature, structure, and powers of the political entity called the Bangsamoro that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Under the agreement, the following steps will be taken leading to the creation of the Bangsamoro by 2016. Transition Commission
- After the signing of the framework agreement, President Aquino will issue an Executive Order creating the Transition Commission.
- The commission shall draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, including proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution if necessary.
- The body will be composed of 15 members – eight members to be selected by the MILF and seven selected by the government representing different sectors in the Bangsamoro.
- While the Transition Commission is being organized, the negotiating panels will continue to work on the annexes on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization and transitional mechanisms that are aimed to be finished within this year.
- The MILF shall gradually decommission its armed forces, and transfer law enforcement to a civilian police force that will be accountable both to the central and Bangsamoro governments.
- The term Bangsamoro refers to the original inhabitants of Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, and adjacent islands including Palawan at the time of conquest and colonization. Their descendants, whether mixed or of full native blood, and their spouses also have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro.
- The name Bangsamoro also refers to the new autonomous political entity that shall be created under the agreement. It is not an Islamic state, but a secular government where the basic rights of all people will be protected.
- All peoples in the Bangsamoro are Filipino citizens.
- The Bangsamoro Basic Law shall define the relations between the local government units and the Bangsamoro and central governments.
- The Bangsamoro shall have the power to create its own sources of revenues, as well as to have a just share in the revenues derived from natural resources. A Fiscal Policy Board and an intergovernmental sustainable development body shall be created to serve as mechanisms for partnership with the central government.
- The Central Government will have reserved powers, and the Bangsamoro will have its exclusive or devolved powers. There will also be concurrent or shared powers between the Central and the Bangsamoro governments.
- The Basic Law shall provide for justice institutions that reflect the plurality and diversity of the communities in the region.
- The draft law shall be submitted to Congress for deliberation.
- The ARMM shall continue to function until the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed and ratified.
- Once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is signed by the President, a plebiscite shall be conducted in the envisioned core territory of the Bangsamoro, as follows:
- The current ARMM provinces (Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) and Marawi City
- The cities of Cotabato and Isabela
- The six municipalities in Lanao del Norte (Baloi, Munai, Pantar, Nunungan, Tagaloan, Tangkal) that voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite
- The barangays in six municipalities of North Cotabato (Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap) that also voted for inclusion in 2001
- Other contiguous areas where there is a resolution for inclusion from the local government unit, or a petition of at least 10 percent of the qualified voters may also join after the requisite plebiscite.
- The people will decide whether they will join the Bangsamoro or not.
- The final geographical scope of the Bangsamoro shall be determined after the plebiscite.
- The basic law shall provide for a transitory phase where the Bangsamoro Transition Authority shall bridge the period between the plebiscite and the 2016 election.
- The Transition Authority shall prepare for the transformation of the region into the Bangsamoro.
- Elections for the new Bangsamoro government will be held in 2016.
- The Bangsamoro shall have a ministerial form of government. This will allow the MILF and other political forces to participate in elections through political parties and seek power through democratic and peaceful means.
- Voters will vote for political parties, and the parties that win seats in the legislative body shall elect the head of the Bangsamoro.