MILF urges Philippine Muslims to back autonomy law

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is appealing to supporters to vote for the new autonomy law. (AFP)
Updated 30 July 2018

MILF urges Philippine Muslims to back autonomy law

  • In 2008, close to a million people were displaced in central Mindanao region when violence erupted after the Supreme Court canceled a deal on ancestral domain with the MILF
  • An estimated five million Muslims live in the region, which has the predominantly Catholic nation’s lowest levels of employment, income, education and economic development

MANILA: Leaders of the Philippines’ mainstream separatist group has urged Muslims in the country’s south to support a new autonomy law designed to tackle extremism and defuse a half-century of conflict in a referendum later this year.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace deal with the government four years ago, gathered tens of thousands of supporters from all over the southern province of Mindanao to its base to begin a massive campaign for the law’s approval.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed the new autonomy legislation, called Bangsamoro Organic Law, allowing self-rule for Muslims in 2022, hoping to end a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.
“Our real journey toward self-determination is just starting,” Mohagher Iqbal, the rebel group’s chief negotiator, told Reuters by telephone, saying there are still challenges ahead that could stop the implementation of the law.

Potential obstacles
Speaking earlier to thousands of supporters, including women and children, he asked them to vote for the approval of the law expanding the territories covered by the Muslim autonomous area in the south, although he warned of some potential obstacles.
“We still don’t know if there are groups or individuals who will question the new autonomy law before the Supreme Court,” he told a cheering crowd in a speech livestreamed on social media. Supporters chanted “Yes to BOL” in the rebel camp in the middle of coconut and banana groves.
In 2008, close to a million people were displaced in central Mindanao region when violence erupted after the Supreme Court canceled a deal on ancestral domain with the MILF. A small but more radical splinter rebel group has since emerged, and has aligned with pro-Islamic State militant forces.
MILF leaders said they are trying to avoid a similar episode that could lead to extremist groups taking hold in the south. The rebel group is expected to dominate the 80-member Bangsamoro transition government that will be formed after the referendum.
The Bangsamoro area includes part of the Philippines’ second-largest island of Mindanao, and a chain of dozens of small islands to the west notorious for piracy and banditry.
An estimated five million Muslims live in the region, which has the predominantly Catholic nation’s lowest levels of employment, income, education and economic development.
The UN, EU, US and Japan welcomed the passing of the new autonomy law, hoping for an end to violence and a start to the region’s economic reconstruction.


Curtains close on Jaipur Literature Festival

Updated 28 January 2020

Curtains close on Jaipur Literature Festival

  • This year’s themes were current trends in politics, wider society, the economy, art, and literature

NEW DELHI: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) came to a close on Monday after registering a footfall of more than 400,000 visitors during the five-day event, which saw the participation of more than 500 speakers from 30 countries.

What started as a small event in the western Indian city of Jaipur in 2007 has gone on to become one of the most prestigious literary festivals in the world, so much so that the Diggi Palace, an expansive medieval structure which was used as the venue for the JLF every year, became overcrowded this year, forcing organizers to look for a new venue for 2021.

This year’s themes were current trends in politics, wider society, the economy, art, and literature.

With India witnessing continuous protests against new citizenship legislation introduced by the government, most of the political discussions revolved around the issue, with many drawing attention to the danger it posed to the constitution and the secular fabric of the country.

Changes taking place in the Arab world were also part of this year’s discourse with four Arab authors speaking at the JLF.