The 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro: Progress in the Quest for Peace in the Philippines

The Philippines has been grappling with internal conflict for decades, and one of the most contentious issues has been the struggle for autonomy in the Muslim-majority region of Mindanao. In 2012, a significant step was taken towards resolving this conflict with the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The agreement was signed between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim separatist group in the country. It lays out a roadmap for the establishment of a new autonomous region in Mindanao known as the Bangsamoro. This region would have greater powers and resources than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was created in 1989 but failed to fully address the grievances of the Muslim population.

The Framework Agreement aims to address the root causes of the conflict in Mindanao, which include poverty, inequality, historical injustices, and failed attempts at autonomy in the past. It outlines a comprehensive approach that addresses political, economic, social, and cultural issues in order to ensure sustainable peace and development in the region.

Some of the key provisions of the agreement include the creation of a Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will govern the region until elections are held in 2022, the establishment of a wealth-sharing system that will ensure equitable distribution of resources, and the recognition of the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination.

The agreement has received widespread international support, with the United States, European Union, and Organization of Islamic Cooperation among those expressing their endorsement. However, implementation has been slow and fraught with challenges. There have been tensions between the government and MILF over the interpretation and implementation of some provisions, as well as resistance from other groups who feel left out of the process.

Nevertheless, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro remains a significant milestone in the Philippines’ quest for peace. It represents a commitment by both the government and MILF to find a lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao, and provides a framework for addressing the underlying issues that have fueled the unrest. With continued support and cooperation, the Bangsamoro region could become a model for peace and development in the region.