Small Wars Journal

Philippine Rebels Clinch the Spoils of a Bloody War

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 9:19am

Philippine Rebels Clinch the Spoils of a Bloody War by Bong S. Sarmiento - Asia Times

Moro Islamic Liberation Front's long struggle for an autonomous region has likely passed a plebiscite but whether the rebels can administer as well as they fight is yet to be seen.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Philippines largest Islamic armed group, is poised to reap the fruits of its civil war, a four decade-long conflict that claimed 120,000 lives and badly stunted development on the southern island of Mindanao.

On January 21, in a highly anticipated plebiscite, tens of thousands of voters flocked to different polling centers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to decide the fate of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the main anchor of the MILF’s peace deal with the government.

The BOL, if passed, will create a new political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), replacing the 28-year-old ARMM, the outgrowth of a previous peace deal with a separate Muslim rebel group in the area.


Preliminary Commission on Elections (Comelec) results showed late Thursday (January 24) that the plebiscite passed overwhelmingly in four of the five provinces included in the ARMM. The plebiscite’s area also covers the major cities of Cotabato and Isabela.


Comelec is expected to declare the official results by Friday or early next week.


Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s first and only president to hail from Mindanao, signed the BOL last July and later pushed for its ratification to bring “just and lasting peace and development” in the country’s violence-wracked main southern island…

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