WHAT WENT BEFORE
On July 16, 2008, representatives of the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced that they had reached an agreement to expand a Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao.
Under the proposed memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD), the planned homeland also referred to as the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) was to include the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Marawi City); six municipalities in Lanao del Norte; hundreds of barangays in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato, which voted in 2001 to become part of the ARMM; and parts of Palawan.
It was to have its own “basic law,” police and internal security force, and system of banking and finance, civil service, education and legislative and electoral institutions, as well as full authority to develop and dispose of minerals and other natural resources.
The agreement was scheduled to be signed on August 5 in Kuala Lumpur (the Malaysian government had been brokering the talks that led to the agreement).
But the agreement met with strong public opposition, with groups claiming that the proposed Bangsamoro homeland could lead to the formation of an independent state. Some officials, lawmakers and interest groups took the issue to the Supreme Court.
On Aug. 4, 2008, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on the signing of the agreement.
On Aug. 7, 2008 armed clashes broke out in Mindanao, with MILF forces occupying areas of North Cotabato and raiding towns in Lanao del Norte and Sarangani. MILF leaders blamed the attacks on field commanders impatient at the delay in the implementation of the agreement.
On Sept. 3, 2008 after issuing conflicting statements on the government’s stand on the MILF and the agreement, Malacañang announced that it was dissolving the government peace panel and that the administration would not sign the document “in light of recent violent incidents committed by lawless violent groups.”
On Oct. 14, 2008, the Supreme Court, voting 8-7, declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional and illegal, describing the process that led to its crafting as “whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic.”
The high court affirmed its decision to reject the deal on Nov. 11, 2008.
The high court’s decision triggered attacks by MILF rebels on Christian communities in Mindanao. The violence displaced 750,000 people and left nearly 400 people dead, according to official figures.
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