Christians and others in the southern Philippines are expressing strong fears that legislation meant to create an Islamic sub-state on Mindanao Island –legislation meant to appease Islamists — will only create more extremism against Christians.
If Bangsamoro, or “Moro Country” — Moro is colloquial for “Muslim” — were ruled under Sharia, non-Muslims would become second-class citizens with drastically reduced rights. Critics of the bill say it would render the federal government powerless to redress human rights abuses under Islamic law.
“What President Aquino is doing is treasonous to Christian communities in Mindanao,” Rolly Pelinggon, national convener of Mindanaoans for Mindanao (M4M), told Morning Star News.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), proposed by President Benigno Aquino III last September with the aim of ending decades of Islamist rebel violence in Mindanao, was approved by a House Ad Hoc Committee on May 20. The area, comprising five provinces with sizeable non-Muslim populations, already enjoys a measure of autonomy and the proposed BBL would give leaders sufficient independence to impose sharia (Islamic law).
The BBL came about as part of a preliminary peace accord between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group. But it has done little to reduce violence.The BPFA was signed in 2013 as a precursor to a final peace agreement. The government claimed there would be no more Muslim rebel attacks in Mindanao after it was signed, but in some areas violence –including trademark Islamic attacks on churches and nuns — has increased.