Bangsamoro Organic Law: The path to Muslim majority autonomous region

Bangsamoro Organic Law

In less than two weeks from now, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will come to fruition after more than a decade of set-backs and progress.


Here are some of the major milestones on the path to the new autonomous Muslim majority region:



During the term of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced the creation of the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), a document that outlined the creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity with its own police, military, and judicial systems.


The MOA-AD proposed the creation of an autonomous political region.


After issuing a temporary restraining order on the signing of the MOA-AD, the Supreme Court declared the agreement unconstitutional and illegal.




The government and the MILF released the Framework of Agreement on the Bangsamoro, paving the way for a new autonomous political entity — the Bangsamoro.

It was signed in ceremonies held in the Malacañan Palace, witnessed by President Benigno Aquino, Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, and other dignitaries.



The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed in a ceremony, thus concluding 17 years of negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the MILF.



In a mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan”, some 44 members of the police Special Action Force died in an encounter against the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The botched operation also claimed the lives of 18 rebels and five civilians.


With a 50-17 vote and one abstention, the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL approved the draft and the committee report of the proposed measure, which was then renamed the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).


Former Senator Bongbong Marcos said 17 senators had signed the committee report on the substitute bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was then renamed the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Law.


President Aquino met with lawmakers to discuss what would become of the BBL, as the measure had been pending in the House plenary for second reading since September due to lack of quorum.

The 16th Congress eventually failed to pass the BBL when it adjourned in February 2016.



The first Philippine president from Mindanao, Rodrigo Duterte, assumed office. His campaign heavily promised on bringing peace in the war-torn area through the passage of the BBL.



Duterte met with MNLF founder and leader Nur Misuari to discuss the BBL and the shift to federalism after the group rejected the passage due to complicated issues.



Senators Miguel Zubiri, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, and Risa Hontiveros conducted the first public consultation in Mindanao on the proposed BBL, which took place in Cotabato City in Maguindanao.


Voting 227-11-2, the House of Representatives approved its version of the proposed BBL, or House Bill 6475, on third and final reading on May 30. The Senate, after discussing provisions of the bill for about 10 hours, voted 21-0 early May 31 to approve its version, Senate Bill 1717.

July 18

The bicameral committee approved the final version of the BBL, now called the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), or Bangsamoro Organic Law.

It will be parliamentary-democratic, a first in the country. It will be headed by the regional leader called the Chief Minister, who will preside over an 80-member parliament.

July 24

The House of Representatives ratified the OLBARMM.


January 21

Declared as a special non-working holiday by the president, residents the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato vote in a plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

February 6

Another plebiscite will be held in Lanao del Norte, Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit and Pigkayawan towns in North Cotabato and other areas that sought inclusion in the proposed BARMM.

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