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Bangsamoro sub-state and elusive peace in S Philippines (2)

(Xinhua)

13:35, August 18, 2011

Mastura was practically asking Mr. Aquino to choose between keeping his popularity among the Filipino people or working for peace by acceding to the sub-state proposal.

In reacting to Mastura's challenge, Dean Marvic Leonen of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines and head of the government panel, said that "reducing the choices in the negotiations to simplistic dichotomies like popularity and peace is dangerous because it fixates on a debate that does not exist."

Leonen said he was disappointed that a senior MILF official had gone down to that level. "If you say it's a choice between popularity and peace, it's like saying neither popularity nor peace at the same time. But the problem in Mindanao is more complex than that," he said.

In the resumption of the talks in Kuala Lumpur, Leon would present the government's counter-proposal on the sub-state idea.

The proposed Bangsamoro sub-state would exercise all government functions, except those of national defense, foreign affairs, currency and postal services, which would remain in the hands of the national government.

The scope of such a sub-state has yet to be defined but it could lead to the expansion of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to include areas with predominant Muslim population in other provinces in Mindanao.

Under the MILF proposal, the sub-state would be governed by a chief minister elected by an assembly. It will have "asymmetrical relations" with the national government, similar to Hong Kong's relations with China, according to the MILF.

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