clearn.png
Friday November 27th, 2020 12:57AM

Filipino Muslims vote on autonomy after long peace effort

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MARAWI, Philippines (AP) — Muslims in the southern Philippines voted Monday in a referendum on a new autonomous region that seeks to end nearly half a century of unrest, in what their leaders are touting as the best alternative to a new wave of Islamic State group-inspired militants.

The vote caps a tumultuous peace effort by the government in Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main rebel group, to seal a deal that was signed in 2014 but languished in the Philippine Congress until it was finally approved last year. Bloodshed including the siege of Marawi city by IS-linked militants and other bombings and attacks in the south threatened to derail it.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro rebels, has repeatedly said that the creation of a viable Muslim autonomous region is the best antidote to about half a dozen smaller IS-linked radical groups that remain a threat in Mindanao, the homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

"We can roughly conclude that all these splinter groups are a result of the frustration with the peace process," Murad said in July, when President Rodrigo Duterte signed the legislation creating the new region, called Bangsamoro.

Under the deal, the rebels gave up their goal of an independent state in exchange for broad autonomy, although they originally wanted a federal unit with more powers. Their 30,000 to 40,000 fighters are to be demobilized. Murad has appealed to the international community to contribute to a trust fund to be used to finance the insurgents' transition from decades of waging one of Asia's longest rebellions.

People remaining in battle-scarred Marawi voted in schools set up as voting centers, and evacuees voted in Saguiaran, with some hoping peace would mean they could get their homes and lives back in the city where military troops stand guard at checkpoints and homes are filled with bullet holes.

"We believe that this plebiscite will be the key to peaceful life," said teacher Gehariariah Daroninbang, who was voting "yes" and said while the deal was not assured to be perfect, it was "near to perfect."

Centuries of conquest — first by Spanish and American colonial forces that had ruled the Philippine archipelago followed by Filipino Christian settlers — have gradually turned Muslims into a minority group in Mindanao, triggering conflict over land, resources and sharing of political power. Uprisings seeking self-rule have been brutally suppressed, feeding more resentment. Insecurity is fueled by proliferation of weapons and armed groups that have resorted to ransom kidnappings and extortion for survival, such as the brutal Abu Sayyaf, which is not part of any peace process.

Bangsamoro replaces an existing poverty-wracked autonomous region with a larger, better-funded and more powerful entity. An annual grant, estimated at $1.3 billion, is to be set aside to bolster development.

Western governments have welcomed the autonomy pact. They worry that small numbers of IS-linked militants from the Middle East and Southeast Asia could forge an alliance with Filipino insurgents and turn the south into a breeding ground for extremists.

In 2017, Philippine troops backed by U.S. and Australian surveillance aircraft routed the militants who occupied Marawi for five months in battles that left more than 1,200 people, mostly Islamic fighters, dead and the mosque-studded city in ruins. Overall, the conflict has left about 150,000 people dead over several decades and stunted development in the resource-rich but underdeveloped southern region that is the country's poorest.

The Commission on Elections said it has printed 2.1 million ballots for the plebiscite. Results are expected no later than Jan. 26. If the measure is approved, a second referendum on Feb. 6 will ask residents of Lanao del Norte province and seven towns in North Cotabato province with a sizeable Muslim population to decide whether they want to join the new region as well.

Possible pitfalls include petitions to the Supreme Court to strike down the autonomy deal.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Filipino Muslims vote on autonomy after long peace effort
Muslims in the southern Philippines are voting in a referendum on a new autonomous region that seeks to end nearly half a century of unrest
1:33AM ( 4 minutes ago )
2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus
The moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the only total lunar eclipse this year and next
1:04AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Bolton's test: Massaging Trump tweets into foreign policy
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, fine-tunes presidential pronouncements into foreign policy
12:43AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Filipino Muslims vote in referendum on autonomous region
Muslims in the southern Philippines are voting in a referendum on a new autonomous region that seeks to end nearly half a century of unrest
10:42PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Shutdown proposal unlikely to break logjam
Schumer: Senate won't pass president's proposal to break shutdown stalemate
5:07PM ( 8 hours ago )
At 30-day mark, shutdown logjam remains over border funding
Thirty days into the partial government shutdown, Trump and Democrats remain at odds
4:13PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Democrats aren't buying Trump's shutdown-ending 'compromise'
Trump pitches shutdown proposal that helps some immigrants as a compromise, but Democrats aren't buying it
11:49AM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: TSA says many of its workers calling out of work
The impacts of the record-breaking partial government shutdown are continuing to escalate
11:41AM ( 13 hours ago )
May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay
As Prime Minister Theresa May prepares her next move in Britain's deadlocked Brexit battle, a senior opposition politician says unlikely the U.K. will leave the European Union as scheduled on March 29
11:21AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
China's 2018 economic growth sinks to 3-decade low
China's 2018 economic growth falls to 3-decade low amid tariff battle with Washington
11:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
China's economic growth sinks to 3-decade low in 2018
China's 2018 economic growth falls to 3-decade low amid tariff battle with Washington
10:50PM ( 2 hours ago )
China 2018 economic growth falls to 3-decade low
China's 2018 economic growth falls to 3-decade low of 6.6 percent amid tariff battle with Washington
9:40PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
Hedi Slimane unveils debut menswear show for Celine in Paris
Psychedelic Peruvian paintings covered panel upon panel of Kenzo's fall menswear show at Paris Fashion Week
3:56PM ( 9 hours ago )
Former CIA officer portrayed in 'Argo' film dead at 78
A former CIA technical operations officer who helped rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1980 and was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film "Argo," has died
2:17PM ( 11 hours ago )
Man City, Spurs win in contrasting ways in Premier League
Manchester City ultimately sauntered to a 3-0 win at Huddersfield while Tottenham needed a goal by Harry Winks in the third and final minute of injury time to earn a 2-1 victory at Fulham.
1:34PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Timberlake pops in on patients at Texas children's hospital
Justin Timberlake pulled some sunshine from his pocket for the patients at a Texas children's hospital
6:28PM ( 1 day ago )
Film airing on PBS highlights Native American links to rock
A documentary that will appear on the PBS series "Independent Lens" shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz and influenced generations of musicians
6:20PM ( 1 day ago )
PBS film tackles Native American links to rock, blues, jazz
A new PBS Independent Lens documentary shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz and influenced generations of musicians
2:20PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Recordings News
2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus
The moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the only total lunar eclipse this year and next
1:04AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Bolton's test: Massaging Trump tweets into foreign policy
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, fine-tunes presidential pronouncements into foreign policy
12:43AM ( 54 minutes ago )
The Latest: Raonic ends racket-smashing Zverev's Aussie run
Milos Raonic has beaten racket-smashing No. 4-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (5) on his fourth match point to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the fourth time
12:41AM ( 56 minutes ago )
Ex-Nissan chairman Ghosn asks for bail, promises not to flee
Nissan's ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn promises to wear ankle monitor in latest request for bail after two-months of detention in Japan
12:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
The shutdown today: Trump lashes out after Dems reject offer
The shutdown today: Trump lashes out after Democrats reject his offer
12:18AM ( 1 hour ago )