Minority Muslims in S. Philippines vote in referendum on Mindanao autonomy

Nearly three million minority Muslims in southern Philippines voted on Monday in a referendum on autonomy. The move is aimed at ending decades of deadly conflict and granting them greater control over their land and natural resources. Residents in Mindanao region are being asked if they back a plan by separatists and the government to create a self-administered area known as Bangsamoro, or “nation of Moros,” the name Spanish colonialists gave to the area’s Muslim inhabitants. A clear “yes” vote is widely expected, which would grant executive, legislature and fiscal powers to the region, Reuters said. Mindanao, the Philippines’ second-biggest island, has mineral deposits worth about $300 billion, or 40 percent of the country’s reserves, the government said.