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The Philippines Lays Its Bet for Peace. Will It Pay the Price?

Aug 7, 2018 | 20:33 GMT
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, poses with lawmakers, leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and military and police officials during a presentation ceremony for the new Bangsamoro law in Manila on Aug. 6, 2018.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, poses with lawmakers, leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and military and police officials during a presentation ceremony for the new Bangsamoro law in Manila on Aug. 6, 2018. The law grants greater autonomy to the Philippines' Moro Muslim minority on the southern island of Mindanao.

(TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Four years after it signed a peace deal that pacified a powerful insurgent force on the southern island of Mindanao, the Philippine government has finally managed to make good on its key promise, enacting a law that allows an expanded, more powerful, locally governed region for its Moro Muslim minority. The long delay in the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law opened space for the Islamic State to make inroads in the restive region, and last year insurgents linked to that group took over Marawi City for six months. In the vast interconnected maritime space of Southeast Asia, extremist activity in the Philippines can echo far beyond remote Mindanao. Now that it has started the process of building a new autonomous region, the Philippine government will need to stick the landing. The path to final implementation of the new law opens up further risks of delay, deepened ethnic and clan fault...

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