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ICC Note: A new law to govern the autonomous region of Mindanao, a major southern island in the Philippines, could allow that part of the country to implement sharia law, at the particular expense of non-Muslims.  According to the article, violence in Mindanao has actually increased, as opposed to claims from Manila.

By Morning Star News Philippines correspondent

06/26/2015 Philippines (Morning Star News)

Christians and others in the southern Philippines have expressed strong fears that legislation creating an Islamic sub-state on Mindanao Island will exacerbate religious tensions rather than resolve them.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), proposed by President Benigno Aquino III last September with the aim of ending decades of Islamist rebel violence in Mindanao, was approved by a House Ad Hoc Committee on May 20 with 50 members voting yes, 17 voting no and one abstaining. The area, comprising five provinces with sizeable non-Muslim populations, already enjoys a measure of autonomy as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and the proposed BBL would give leaders sufficient independence to impose sharia (Islamic law).

“What President Aquino is doing is treasonous to Christian communities in Mindanao,” Rolly Pelinggon, national convener of Mindanaoans for Mindanao (M4M), told Morning Star News.

If Bangsamoro, or “Moro Country” with Moro being colloquial for “Muslim,” were ruled under sharia, non-Muslims would become second-class citizens with drastically reduced rights. Critics of the bill say it would render the federal government powerless to redress human rights abuses under Islamic law.

Pelinggon said the BBL would thus worsen Muslim-Christian conflict. Besides intensifying religious-cultural differences between Christians and Muslims, the BBL would also facilitate monopoly of oil and gas resources by vested groups in Mindanao, he said.

The BBL came about as part of a preliminary peace accord, the Bangsamoro Peace Framework Agreement (BPFA), between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group, but it has done little to reduce violence. The BPFA was signed in 2013 as a precursor to a final peace agreement. The government claimed there would be no more Muslim rebel attacks in Mindanao after it was signed, but in some areas violence has increased.

[Full Story]