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Work starts to define new Muslim region

Autonomy now on the horizon

ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Philippines

April 3, 2013

A transition body convened today to develop a “Basic Law” to guide the establishment of a new Muslim region in Mindanao. This move follows the signing of a peace deal between the government and Moro rebels last October.

Mohagher Iqbal, head of the 15-man transition body and a negotiator for the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) group, appealed for support in his welcome remarks.

"Let me call on our partners from the government to work hand in hand with us in trusting an instrument that will embody the Bangsamoro ideals and aspirations and create new relations founded on the principles of parity of esteem and mutual respect," Iqbal said.

He also called on the international community to help the transition body, "so that the lessons we may learn here will also help others."

Teresita Deles, President Benigno Aquino's adviser on the peace process, said the creation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be "long and filled with challenges."

But the government anticipates seeing the teamwork "as one collegial body which shall be able to craft inclusive frames and processes," she said.

The group comprises representatives from the MILF, the government and various ethnic groups in Mindanao.

Upon completion, the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be submitted to Congress for passage under an expedited mechanism.

Once the law is ratified through a plebiscite, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be abolished and the Bangsamoro region will be established.

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