Philippines: Bangsamoro law, Federalism at top of House agenda – 24 Jul 2017

  • As the second regular session of the 17th Congress opened, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez pitched for the passage of the law that would create an autonomous area at the heart of Mindanao aimed at ending violence and banditry that have plagued the region.
  • Speaking before 264 legislators who attended the opening session, Alvarez pushed for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the shift from a unitary to a federal form of government, saying these are the key to a “lasting peace and prosperity for the country.”
  • The speaker said the Bangsamoro Basic Law, whose draft was submitted to the president several days ago, was the basis for the creation of a homeland for Moro on Mindanao island, where many of the country’s five million Muslims reside.
  • The shift to federalism, meanwhile, is expected to “address the structural defects that have hampered our national strategy in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and progress,” Alvarez said.
  • The shift to a federal type of government is one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s major campaign promises, believing that such change would propel the countryside’s development and cure the imbalance in development among the country’s regions.
  • Critics, however, point out a systemic sickness spawning corruption, red tape and use of armed groups that a shift to federalism would not cure and might even enhance.

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