Press Release
May 21, 2008


Muslim rebel chieftain Nur Misuari has vowed to support the proposed adoption of a federal system in the country which, among others, will pave the way for the establishment of a BangsaMoro Federal State in Mindanao.

Misuari, foremost leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, offered to spearhead the campaign for federalism in Muslim Mindanao when he visited Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. at his Senate office Tuesday.

Pimentel said Misuari, who was also ex-governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, recalled that he was already espousing federalism when he ran as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1971.

The senator from Mindanao said Misuari is one of several prominent leaders of the Muslim community who believe that the creation of a BangsaMoro Federal State - as part of a federalized Republic of the Philippines - is the only constitutional and legal means of dissipating the causes of Muslim rebellion and of laying the foundations of a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

The adoption of a federal system, which calls for the creation of 11 component federal states in the country, is embodied in Joint Resolution 10 which was introduced by Pimentel and backed by a majority of senators.

"Of course, I told Misuari I do not expect you to agree with everything that is found in the resolution. But what is important is we agree with the concept of federalism, and we can refine the concept as we go along," Pimentel said.

He said the proposed BangsaMoro Federal State should comprise as much as is possible all the local government areas where the Muslims predominate.

In order to allow the Muslims to enhance their culture, Pimentel said they should be allowed to adopt the Shari'ah judicial system for purposes of settling disputes among Muslim litigants.

"The Shari'ah, however, in my view should be subject to the national constitution's limitation that bars the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment such as lashing or caning of criminals or cutting of the fingers or arms or legs of criminals," he said.

Pimentel said the Shari'ah should apply only to the litigants who profess Islam as their religion. He said if the litigants are of different religions, the national law, not the Shari'ah, should apply.

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