By: Celeste Marie R. Cruz[*]
Peace and economic development have long remained elusive to the conflict-torn region of Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines. Since the late 1960s, the Conflict in Mindanao, led by a secessionist independence movement of the Islamic minority in a predominantly Catholic country, has led to an enormous loss of life and suffering, claiming an estimated 120,000 lives and displacing more than 2 million people. The ongoing peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH), under President Benigno Aquino III, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reached a significant milestone with the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (Framework) last October 15, 2012. The Framework seeks to establish a “federal” type of sub-state in the said region that is currently under the jurisdiction of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindano (ARMM).