Arroyo files own bill creating Bangsamoro Autonomous Region
MANILA, Philippines – Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo filed her own version of the law creating the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, a new track separate from Malacañang-backed inititatives to implement a peace agreement with Muslim rebels.
The creation of the region that will abolish and replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is seen as urgent as radical extremists linked with the international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS) are feared to recruiting among young Muslims. (READ: MILF, Maute Group battle for legitimacy)
Arroyo filed House Bill 6121, titled the Basic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region or BAR – which she saide "truly reflects the aspirations of our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the indigenous brethren, representation to Indigenous Peoples, women, the sultanates, and other key stakeholders.”
Arroyo filed the bill as the House of Representatives awaits formal submission of the revised Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) drafted by a body created by Malacañang, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
The BTC is led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's dominant Muslim rebel group that signed a final peace agreement with the government in 2014.
Under Arroyo's proposal, BAR will be composed of the following areas:
- present geographical area of ARMM
- the cities of Cotabato and Isabela
- any province or city that are contiguous and outside the geographical area of the present ARMM where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10% of the registered voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of a plebiscite of the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro geographical area
Arroyo said the relationship between BAR and the national government will be "asymmetric," meaning the autonomous regions is granted more powers and will get less intervention from the national government.
Arroyo also championed peace talks with the MILF when she was president. A final peace agreement was supposed to be signed in 2008 – the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Doman (MOA-AD) – but it was met by protests and later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The succeeding administration of President Benigno Aquino III pursued the talks and signed a final peace agreement in 2014. He aimed to enact the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will create the new region before he stepped down but it was derailed by a botched police operation that led to the death of elite cops inside known MILF territory.
President Rodrigo Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, vowed to get Congress to finally pass the law. – Rappler.com