Creation of new Muslim region moves forward

New commission tasked with drafting basic laws
ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Philippines
December 18, 2012
President Benigno Aquino today ordered the creation of transition commission that will draft the basic laws of a new Muslim region in Mindanao.

Teresita Quintos Deles, Aquino's adviser on the peace process, said the order “affirms the president's resolve to move forward the peace process... as a strategic initiative for political stability and economic development.”

She said Aquino's order also provides a mechanism for “authentic democratic collaboration” in the crafting of proposed laws where the affected people themselves are actively involved.

The executive order creates a 15-member body that will be appointed by the president. The rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is expected come up with a list of candidates from among the people of Mindanao.

The transition body will also recommend to Congress proposed amendments to the constitution.

“The aim is to install [a new Muslim region] through a new organic act as soon as possible in order to have an elected Bangsamoro government by 2016,” said Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government peace panel.

She said the government is committed to the reconstruction of conflict-affected areas and to fast track socio-economic development in the region. 

Aquino's order came after the latest round of peace negotiations with Moro rebels ended in a “technical impasse” on Saturday. The MILF said in a statement that no formal agreements have been reached.

Government and rebel negotiators were supposed to finalize details regarding “power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization” before the year end after signing a peace deal on October 15.

The MILF said the unresolved question on whether the MILF will lead the transition body was the reason for the impasse.

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