MANILA (Manila Times) – President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed that Mindanao has become more peaceful following the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which gives Muslims full autonomy.
In his speech during the inauguration of a hotel in Davao City late Friday, Duterte lauded the “almost” zero incidents of fighting in Central Mindanao.
“I was going to give you the factors that would, you know, shape Mindanao whether for the worse or for the better. We have been able to strike a solution in central Mindanao,” the President said.
“There is less fighting now because of the BOL. And I’d like to congratulate my brother Muslims, Moros of Mindanao that there has been almost no incident here in the Central Mindanao area,” he added.
But Duterte admitted the New People’s Army (NPA) remains a big problem in the region.
The President formally ended peace talks with communist rebels in March this year. The government has instead formed localized panels to talk with rebels in communities.
“The NPAs remain to be a big problem… I just hope that we’d be able to do something about it before my term ends,” Duterte said.
“‘Yun lang. You have to consider the law and order of Mindanao. I do not recommend any new economic activity or investment on the western side, especially in the islands there. I do not think that it would be prudent for you to consider it. Maybe, in the fullness of God’s time, we’d be able to come up with something that’s a workable solution for all,” he added.
On January 21, the people ratified the BOL creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the final step in the 2014 peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The BOL aims to give the impoverished south an expanded autonomous area, offering self-determination to the nation’s 4 million Muslims by empowering them to elect their own parliament.
The law would also give the people in parts of the southern Philippines that have Islamic majority control over many local government functions, including taxation and education. It will likewise allow Muslim Filipinos to incorporate Sharia law into their justice system.