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Southeast Asia, explained

A revamped Islamic state in the Philippines

Deal with Islamic separatists could expand Sharia law
Philippines insurgency 2012 10 11Enlarge
Islamic separatists known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at a gathering of top officers of the MILF in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in the southern Philippines. (Mark Navales/AFP/Getty Images)

After four decades and more than 100,000 lives lost, the Philippine government and the nation's largest Islamic separatist faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are set to end their conflict at last.

The Philippines has agreed to call the insurgency zone "Bangsamoro," a name proposed by insurgent leaders, and they've agreed to offer more local autonomy, according to the Cebu Daily News. The front has agreed to stop waging war to form a separate, Muslim state.

This is an exciting development for sure. But this peace deal will have to outperform a series of past deals that, ultimately, failed to end the conflict. The "Bangasamoro" deal will essentially revamp the clumsily titled Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindinao, a zone in which the local Muslim population is already permitted to carry out Sharia law.

How the insurgents will gradually disarm, and how their leadership will end up governing their turf, is unknown. According to the Philippine Inquirer, a government peace negotiator insists that local leaders will be allowed to expand Quran-based Sharia law in the province as long as they don't dole out sentences that constitute cruel and unusual punishment.


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