“Powerful economic incentives to stabilize the region remain as well.
Central to Manila’s argument for the Bangsamoro law has been
Mindanao’s wealth of untapped mineral resources, namely gold, copper,
nickel, manganese, lead, zinc and iron ore deposits, plus oil and
The failure of the Philippine Congress to approve a core part of a recent peace deal with rebels in the southern Philippines will complicate the fragile settlement and risk at least a short-term surge in violence.
The need to devote security resources to combat other internal threats and to reorient its defense posture to external threats — namely those posed by China — will prevent Manila from abandoning the peace process altogether, regardless of who wins the presidency in May.
Evolving dynamics within the various militant camps will also continue to open opportunities for a long-term resolution.
Peace has long eluded the predominantly Muslim areas of the southern Philippines. For centuries, an ever-shifting mix of rebel groups have waged violence, leaving more than 150,000 people dead in the past four decades alone. The government’s efforts to stabilize the archipelagic region took another hit last week.
With an eye on the elections in May, the 16th Congress of the Philippines adjourned without approving the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a core aspect of a comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2014 with the strongest remaining insurgent group and the one most capable of governing the region, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
This effectively killed any chance of passage while President Benigno Aquino III, a main driver of the peace process, is in office. Whether the next government will revive the legislation when it takes power in July is unclear. Aquino’s chosen successor, Mar Roxas, is trailing in the polls, and none of the other candidates have demonstrated much intent to spend political capital on the proposed law in its current form.
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