Philippine Government agrees to create Bangsamoro state

The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed an agreement on some fundamental points with the total framework of a new “Bangsamoro political entity … that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” (or ARMM).

Mindanews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

 

FROM MANILA STANDARD TODAY:

Govt agrees to create Bangsamoro state

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012 Written by 

THE Aquino administration has finally agreed to create 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 Tuesday, 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 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.”

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.

Leonen said that on issue of power sharing and autonomy, the government will be bringing “the collective words of the experts in our bureaucracy, including inputs coming from our consultations with the people.”

“Our panels and our principals know that this is only an initial set of agreements which must be contextualized later by the full final agreement,” he said.

The consensus points were “not unreasonably set in stone.” “Outstanding issues” such as the geographic scope of the autonomous political entity, power sharing, and wealth sharing between the entity and the national government will be “contextualized” in the final agreement.

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/April/25)

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Moro fisherman dies in US-Philippine war games

FROM RAPPLER.COM

US troops in sea mishap, 1 fisherman dead

BY DAVID Y. SANTOS

Posted on 04/19/2012 6:23 PM  | Updated 04/19/2012 10:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Tragedy marred the conduct of the Balikatan Exercises 2012 after a fisherman in Basilan died when his motorized pump boat collided with a sea vessel belonging to US troops Wednesday night, April 18.

Reports from Zamboanga City identified the victim as Ahbam Juhurin. He had come from Isabela City and was on his way home with his child to the island municipality of Hadji Muhtamad when the accident happened.

Tahira Ismael, former town mayor of Lantawan town and a relative of the victim, said the collision occurred on the coast of Baluk-Baluk near Hadji Muhtamad town around 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“One of the victim’s children, who was also in the pump boat, was injured and has been brought to a military hospital,” Ismael told reporters.

The US Embassy in Manila confirmed the incident. In a statement released to media, it said: “During routine maritime activity on April 18 involving Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) and Philippine security forces, their boat collided with a local fishing vessel. Despite rescue efforts, one local fisherman was killed, and another injured in the accident.”

The statement added: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victim. We understand that appropriate authorities have begun an immediate investigation into the incident, and JSOTF-P is cooperating fully.”

Returning home

The victims were bringing along fish when their pump boat was hit by a speedboat supposedly belonging to the American soldiers, according to Ismael. She added the US troops assisted the victims and brought them to Basilan’s capital, Isabela City, to seek medical treatment.

However, after sustaining head injuries due to the impact of the crash, Juhurin reportedly died even before he could be transported to a local hospital.

Ismael said the family of the victims has agreed to accept compensation for the accident.

But Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesman Lt Col Randy Cabangbang said the Basilan Provincial Police will still investigate it.

Cabangbang also pointed out that both the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) and the AFP have extended all forms of assistance to the victims’ family. The JSOTF-P is a team of American troops based in Zamboanga City but who receive orders from the US Pacific Command.

Juhurin’s body was brought to the WestMinCom mosque on Thursday morning, April 19, for the traditional Islamic ceremonies.

More than 600 US troops are stationed in different parts of Mindanao as part of their counter-terrorism campaign since 2001.

The PH-US Balikatan 2012 commenced last April 16, with close to 7,000 American and Filipino soldiers participating in different joint military exercises and humanitarian missions in Luzon, Palawan and parts of Western Mindanao.

The US Embassy and WestMinCom however pointed out that the US troops involved in the incident “were not part of Balikatan 2012”.

The sea mishap in Basilan happened as cause-oriented groups opposing the Balikatan conducted protest actions from Davao City to different parts of Mindanao, culminating in Zamboanga City where most of the US troops are based. – Rappler.com