The Philippines government has agreed to the creation of a new Islamic substate of 4 million people in the south: “Bangsamoro.” According toÂ the AP,Â the accord calls for establishing a 15-member “Transition Commission” to “work out the details of the preliminary agreement and draft a law creating the new Muslim autonomous region in about two years.” The accord also calls for deactivating “rebel forces” without specifying a timetable.
OnÂ Radio Australia, Dr. Steve Rood noted the government agreed the new Muslim region would have a separate form of government altogether:
They have agreed that instead of the presidential system and separation of powers that prevails elsewhere in the Philippines, it will be a ministerial form of government with a chief minister. They have begun to sort out which powers will be delegated to the Bangsamoro and which will still be reserved to the Central Government and they have set in train a graduated decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the transfer of policing powers away from the armed forces of the Philippines to the civilian police.
Bangsamoro will also take charge of:
… such things as local economic development, how to actually run the elections, because they will be different from the elections in the rest of the Philippines, the ability to raise their own resources and share in the management of any natural resources that are exploited, such as oil and hydro-electric power.Â And for, very importantly, symbolically for them, it will increase the impact of Islamic or Sharia law on the people there, particularly in terms of the civil code with personal relations and commercial code, so that for the first time, it will be possible to have Sharia compliant businesses in the Bangsamoro.
Asked about jihadist groups such as Abu Sayyef, Rood replied:
I think the basic points here is to more clearly isolate them and delineate them, so that it is easier to make a distinction between the armed separatist insurgency and the terrorist groups, so that with the transfer of policing functions to the civilian police, then it will be their ability to rein that in, that will be one of the major tests.
(Excuse me, are you an armed separtist insurgent or a terrorist group? And could you explain the difference since a sharia state is the shared endgoal?)
Hillary Clinton’s blah-blah from the State DepartmentÂ website:
“The United States welcomes the announcement of the framework agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This agreement is a testament to the commitment of all sides for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the southern Philippines. The next steps will be to ensure that the framework agreement is fully implemented. We encourage all parties to work together to build peace, prosperity and greater opportunities for all the people of the Philippines.”
Sounds like a test run for Afghanistan.