13 February 2017
President Rodrigo Dutertes election in the Philippines was hailed as an unprecedented opportunity to resolve protracted conflicts in the countrys Mindanao region. Yet setbacks in writing the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would provide greater autonomy to the region, and the potential establishment of an Islamic State (ISIS) province could prove stubborn obstacles for the popular leader.
These challenges have collided in recent weeks, with Duterte warning secessionist groups not to house terrorists unless they were prepared toface a new government offensive.
Euphoria marked the March 2014 signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippines government and the major secessionist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The agreement was hailed as the solution to the decades-long Mindanaostruggle. It was forecast that a Bangsamoro government would be up and running by the end of the Aquino administration in June last year. Unfortunately, this optimistic assessment was shattered by the early 2015 Mamasapano incident, in which 44 police commandos perished in a botched counterterrorism raid. Police officers chasing after an Indonesian terrorist known as Marwan strayed into a MILF-influenced area in central Mindanao. The operation subsequently degenerated into a confused firefight.
… Joseph Franco is Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 14/02/2017