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Looking back into history, it cannot be denied that the people of Mindanao have always
looked forward to shaping their destiny through self-determination and self-rule.

Mindanao saw the rise of the first political units ruled by the early datus. Major socio-
political changes however, happened when Sheik Makdum, an Arab missionary, came
and introduced Islam in Mindanao in the 13th century and followed by Shariff Kabunsuan
in the 15thcentury.

Thus, Islamic communities were formed throughout Mindanao, a situation eventually

uniting the Mindanao mainland with its sub-urban islands with the formation of the Islamic
Sultanates under one Supreme Council.

The greater majority the converted to Islam co-existed peacefully, socially, economically,
political and even culturally with their highlander neighbors.

The united stance adopted by Muslims had become the shield by which the Mindanaons
repelled the influences of foreign domination which the Spaniards, the Americans and the
Japanese tried to impose on them.

In the early 1900’s, the Manila government opened Mindanao, dubbed as “The Land of
Promise”, to settlers who were welcomed to share the fruits of its vast and rich natural

The influx of settlers, majority of whom came from nearby Visayas, made Mindanao a
place of diversified groups whose ethnicity, culture, traditions and beliefs never became
a source of misunderstanding, apprehensions and even fears among the early

The situation changed when land grabbing and social injustices were committed by some
deceiving groups against the region’s peace-loving people. These reprehensible acts
made the people question the motives of the government.

In February 1973, the Mindanao problem escalated into an armed conflict, involving the
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Mujahideen and the Armed Forces of the

The conflict led to the death of thousands of innocent people, the displace of tens of
thousands more, and the destruction of billions of pesos worth of property. All these could
have been avoided if the government considered the plight of the Mindanaons, which
raged on for years even with the conduct of peace talks.

Finally, on July 7, 1975, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Presidential
Decree No. 742 and Letter of Instruction 290 creating Western and Central Mindanao
regions in Mindanao and establishing the Office of the Regional Commissioner in both

Hostilities, however, continued. The military and the MNLF persisted with their armed

The Situation attracted the attention of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC),
which intervened to find solutions to by sponsoring a series of negotiations between the
Philippine Government and the MNLF.

The intervention lead to the signing fo the Tripoli Agreement between the Philippine
Government and the MNLF in Tripoli, Libya on December 23, 1976.

Ceasefire was proclaimed in the affected areas of Mindanao, particularly Western and
Central Mindanao regions.

President Marcos, on March 25, 1977, signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1628 forming
an autonomous region in Southern Philippines.

The people, however, opted to retain the original political subdivisions of Western and
Central Mindanao regions in a referendum – plebiscite on April 17, 1977.

On may 7, 1977, Presidential Proclamation 1628-A was issued adopting the wishes of
the people. This did not appease the Bangsamoro Fronts, which called the Autonomous
regions as a unilateral implementation by the Manila government of the Tripoli Agreement
and, as such, was not recognized by the Mujahideen.

On July 25, 1979, Batas Pambansa No. 20 was enacted creating the Regional
Autonomous Government in Western and Central Mindanao regions.

The moves, however, did not stop the hardcore Mujahideen, which had already split up
into three groups – the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Misuari, the Moro
Islamic Liberation From (MILF) under Hashim Salamat, and the MNLF-Reformist under
Dimas Pundatu – from pursuing their revolutionary goals.

This is in spite of success the Philippine government made in attracting back into the folds
of the law a big number of Moro rebels. Many up their arms. Among those who led the
MNLF in the struggle but later joined government were the pioneering top commanders
of the MNLF.

President Corazon C. Aquino, after fall of the Marcos administration, pursued a more
vigorous approach to solve the Mindanao problem. She met MNLF Chairman Nur Misuary
in Jolo, Sulu and followed this up with peace negotiations. All were formalized by the
Jeddah Accord on January 3, 1987, which focused on the full implementation of the Tripoli
The Aquino government, even as the talks failed, sought the creation of the Autonomous
Region in Mindanao (ARMM) by providing the 1987 Philippine Constitution and directly
ordered to convene the Ad hoc Council of the Regional Consultative Council, the body
tasked to draft the Organic Act that would serve as the operations manual of the ARMM.

The Organic Act was signed into law, as Republic Act 6734, by President Aquino on
August 1, 1989 and a plebiscite was conducted in the proposed area of the ARMM on
November 17, 1989. Of the 13 proposed provinces, only four; Maguindanao, Lanao del
Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi joined the ARMM.

The first set of ARMM officials were elected on February 17, 1990. Due to electoral
protest, the ARMM formally started to function only on July 9, 1990 following the oath
taking of Atty. Zacaria A. Candao as First Regional Governor of ARMM.

By and large, the ARMM could not have taken shape without the blood, sweat and tears;
the sacrifices and the hardships the Bangsamoro mujahideen and the Bangsamoro
people struggled for self-determination for a more developed and more peaceful place to

Thus, the ratification of Republic Act #9054, an act to strengthen and expand the Organic
Act for the ARMM amending for the purpose. RA #6734, entitled “An Act Providing for the
ARMM” as ameded in September 2001 plebiscite paved the way for the expansion of the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to include the Province of Basilan and City of

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao seeks to fulfill only two general objectives:
Development and Peace for its 2.8 million people in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao
del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and City of Marawi.

The new expanded ARMM is headed by one (1) Regional Governor, one (1) Regional
Vice Governor and twenty four (24) representatives of Regional Legislative Assembly
representing the eaight districts of the five provinces and one city of the region.

The new regional leadership has ushered new hopes for the expanded Automous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and has commenced governing the region with clear policy
guidelines and development directions anchored on transforming the autonomous
regional government toward responsive governance.



Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In a historic move, President Rodrigo Duterte signed
the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao, home to minority Muslims fighting for self-determination in the
predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines.

During a speech in Zamboanga City on July 26, the President said he had signed the new

READ: Duterte signs Bangsamoro Organic Law

Duterte, the first Philippine President who hails from the South, promised to help the Moro
people resolve their grievances, many of which stem from disputes on ancestral land and
decades of neglect. But he is just the latest in a string of leaders to attempt to put an end
to decades of conflict in the troubled region.

Numerous administrations have conducted peace negotiations with rebel groups such as
the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
resulting in multiple versions of the proposed law, which was earlier called Bangsamor
Basic Law.

Here is a guide to help you understand what the Bangsamoro Organic Law is, and what
the Moro people are aiming for.

What is the BOL and why do we need one?

The BOL, now officially called the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), is the result of decades-long peace negotiations
between the rebel groups in Mindanao, mainly the MILF, and the Philippine Government.

The OLBARMM abolishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),

established in 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 and strengthened in 2001 through
Republic Act No. 9054. Officials have earlier called the ARMM a failure, marred by
corruption and mismanagement.
The new law then creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
(BARMM), or simply the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

University of the Philippines Islamic law and politics professor Jamel Cayamodin said the
Bangsamoro law is designed to address the grievances, sentiments, and demands of
Muslims in the region.

"When you talk about the BBL, it's the advocacy of every Muslim… For the past years,
since martial law, the Muslims have been asking for self-determination," Cayamodin said.

He added the MILF previously called for total independence when under the helm of its
founder Salamat Hashim. When Hashim died in 2003, the rebel group toned down its
demands and instead lobbied for a truly autonomous region.

Cayamodin said provinces in the ARMM are consistently among the poorest sectors of
the country, mainly due to corrupt and inefficient government officials. Clan wars or Rido
were also prevalent in the region.

TIMELINE: Road to peace in Mindanao: The Bangsamoro Organic Law

In 2011, Malacañang said former President Benigno Aquino III considers the ARMM a
"failed experiment."

After multiple rounds of talks that spanned almost a decade, the government and the
MILF signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012.

In 2014, the two parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro
(CAB), which incorporated the FAB and annexes on transitional arrangements, wealth,
power-sharing, and water territories. It served as the basis of the draft BBL.

Several versions of the BBL have been proposed by lawmakers, including the first version
submitted by Aquino to Congress in 2014. In 2015, a House committee approved the draft
and renamed it the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. The Senate,
meanwhile, passed its version of the bill and renamed it the Bangsamoro Autonomous
Region Law.

While there were efforts to pass the BBL during the Aquino administration, the length and
complexity of the bill led the Senate to temporarily defer its proceedings. The 16th
Congress eventually failed to pass the measure before it adjourned.

The OLBARMM - the latest version of the BBL passed during the Duterte administration
- reconciles versions of the proposed measure acceptable to both the government and
the rebel groups.
MILF Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, who also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition
Commission (BTC) that created the first draft of the BBL, earlier said they will not accept
an autonomy that is equal to or less than the ARMM, which was the result of peace deals
between the government and the MNLF.

What are the differences between the ARMM and the BARMM?
 Political structure and justice system
While the ARMM has a unitary form of government, the BARMM will have a
parliamentary-democratic one. This means that the legislative and executive bodies in
the ARMM are independent, while those in the BARMM are more closely related and
empowered to enact its own laws.

In the ARMM, the residents elect their regional governor and vice governor. The regional
governor has his own Cabinet and advisory council. The legislative power lies with the
regional legislative assembly, whose 24 members are also elected by the people.

In the BARMM, the residents will elect an 80-member parliament representing different
parties, districts, and sectors, including indigenous peoples. The members of the
parliament will then elect a chief minister and two deputy chief ministers among
themselves. The chief minister shall also appoint members of his Cabinet.

For the judiciary, both autonomous regions give Shari'ah courts jurisdiction over cases
exclusively involving Muslims in the region. The OLBARMM gives the Supreme Court the
authority to grant the incumbent Shari'ah District and Court judges who are not regular
members of the Philippine Bar a period to qualify. Tribal laws will still apply to disputes of
indigenous peoples within the region.

 Fiscal autonomy and special development fund

Regional government officials under the ARMM must justify their funding before the
Congress like other agencies. This resulted in the dependency of the supposed
autonomous region on the national government for its annual budget.

Meanwhile, the BARMM will have an automatic allocation of the annual block grant,
equivalent to five percent of the net national internal revenue of the Bureau of Internal
Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

The region's share in government revenue taxes, fees, charges, and taxes imposed on
natural resources will increase to 75 percent from the current 70 percent.

The national government will also allocate the Bangsamoro P5 billion annually for a period
of ten years, which will be used for the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas.

 Territory
The ARMM covers the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and
Tawi-Tawi. The same provinces also comprise the BARMM.
However, a plebiscite still has to determine if 39 barangays in North Cotabato, six
municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and the cities of Cotabato in Maguindanao and Isabela
in Basilan will be included in the Bangsamoro territory. The plebiscite will be held within
three to five months after Duterte signs the law.

Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will also have to vote as provinces if they are willing
to let go of their towns and barangays to join the Bangsamoro.

Contiguous areas may also be included in the BARMM if there is a local government
resolution or a petition where at least 10 percent of registered voters seek to join the

For territorial waters, existing laws define only municipal waters nationwide, including
those in ARMM. These cover 15 kilometers from the low-water mark of coasts that are
part of the territory. The Organic Law, meanwhile, introduces regional waters for the
BARMM extending up to 19 kilometers from the low-water mark.

 Inland waters
According to the administrative code of the ARMM, inland bodies of water in the region
like Lake Lanao remain an "integral part of the national territory" of the country.

For the BARMM, all inland waters will be preserved and managed by the Bangsamoro
government. However, those that are utilized for energy in areas outside the BARMM will
be co-managed by the Bangsamoro government and the Department of Energy.

All government revenues from the development and usage of natural resources within the
BARMM will go to the Bangsamoro government, but revenues from fossil fuels and
uranium will be equally shared with the national government.

 Defense and security

Like the ARMM, the national government will be responsible for the defense and security
of the BARMM.

The Philippine National Police will also organize, maintain, and supervise a Police
Regional Office to enforce the law.

Members of the MNLF and MILF may be admitted to the police force. The qualifications
for age, height, and educational attainment may be waived if availed within five years
after the ratification of the OLBARMM. Recruits from the two rebel groups must fulfill the
requirement on educational attainment within 15 years.

 Bangsamoro identity
Republic Act 9054, which strengthened the ARMM, provided an all-encompassing
definition of the Bangsamoro people.
Section 3(b), Article X of the law states that they are "citizens who are believers in Islam
and who have retained some or all of their own social, economic, cultural, and political

The OLBARMM, meanwhile, recognizes and retains the historical and geographical
identity of the Bangsamoro people.

Section 1, Article II of the Organic Law states that Bangsamoro People are "those who,
at the advent of the Spanish colonization, were considered natives or original inhabitants
of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, whether of mixed or of full
blood," including their spouses and descendants.