What’s new? A new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao marks the culmination of 22 years of negotiations between the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This breakthrough follows a five-month battle in 2017 for Marawi City by pro-ISIS fighters who, though on the defensive, still pose a threat.
Why does it matter? The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region should represent the end of the Moro conflict with the Philippine state. Proponents portray it as an “antidote to extremism”. But the new administration has to confront a corrupt, inefficient local bureaucracy, clan conflict and ongoing violence by pro-ISIS groups.
What should be done? The Bangsamoro government, with Manila’s and donors’ support, should respond to the grievances of those in Muslim Mindanao sceptical of the new autonomous region, help 30,000 MILF fighters return to civilian life, try to win over Islamist armed groups outside the peace process and redouble efforts to deliver social services.