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ICC Note: Let us hope and pray that the promises of both Muslim legal experts and representatives of the Government of the Philippines will be kept, and the religious freedom of Christians and other minorities in the Philippines’ proposed Bangsamoro region will be respected. 

By D’jay Lazaro

07/09/2015 Philippines (

Muslim legal experts have assured Christians and other minorities that religious freedom will be respected in the proposed Bangsamoro region in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.

The establishment of the Bangsamoro, an autonomous Muslim region, is part of the peace deal signed by the Philippine government and Moro rebels last year to end a five-decade old insurgency.

“The proposed Bangsamoro is not even a separate state, much less an Islamic State,” Ubaida Pacasem, head of the legal department of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said July 9.

Philippine legislators’ are currently deliberating the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will eventually create the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Christians and other religious minorities living in Mindanao — a predominantly Muslim region — have voiced fears they could be subjected to sharia law when the region gains autonomy.

Pacasem, an expert on sharia said, “all peoples regardless of religion and cultural affiliation shall be respected” in the proposed Muslim region.

The Philippine government also offered assurances to religious minorities on July 9.

All Bangsamoro residents “can rest assured that the regional government and judicial system will respect their religion,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said in a statement.

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