Philip­pines’ Duterte of­fers Mus­lim self-rule to counter IS in­flu­ence

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Manila, Philip­pines - Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte of­fered self-rule to the Philip­pines’ Mus­lim mi­nor­ity on Mon­day in an at­tempt to de­feat Is­lamic State mil­i­tants who seized a south­ern city in the gravest chal­lenge to his year-old rule.

Duterte hopes the prom­ise of au­ton­omy will per­suade Filipino Mus­lims to re­ject the Is­lamic State group, whose fol­low­ers still con­trol parts of Marawi af­ter nearly two months of fight­ing that had left more than 500 peo­ple dead.

Duterte vowed to shep­herd through Congress a ‘Bangsamoro Ba­sic Law’ bill jointly writ­ten and sub­mit­ted to him on Mon­day by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and the coun­try’s largest Mus­lim guer­rilla group, the Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front (MILF).

“This mo­ment is a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in our quest to end cen­turies of ha­tred, mis­trust and in­jus­tice that cost and af­fected the lives of mil­lions of Filipinos,” he said in a speech to MILF lead­ers and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

Both sides said that giv­ing the mainly Catholic na­tion’s large and largely im­pov­er­ished Mus­lim mi­nor­ity a bet­ter choice was cru­cial to head­ing off the lure of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism. “These mis­guided peo­ple have filled the vacuum cre­ated by our fail­ure to en­act the ba­sic law, and feed into the frus­tra­tion of our peo­ple,” MILF chair­man Mu­rad Ebrahim told the same gath­er­ing, re­fer­ring to the Marawi gun­men.

Mus­lims since the 1970s had waged a decades-old in­sur­gency that claimed more than 100,000 lives in the Min­danao re­gion that in­cludes Marawi.

The MILF signed a peace treaty with Duterte’s pre­de­ces­sor Benigno Aquino in 2014 but Congress re­fused to pass the self-rule bill - a key pro­vi­sion of the ac­cord.

Small rebel fac­tions be­gan pledg­ing al­le­giance to the IS soon after­wards. The Marawi at­tack on May 23 was their first ma­jor ac­tion, forc­ing Duterte to im­pose martial rule across Min­danao.

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte

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