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MILF: BBL killed by House bosses

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front blamed House leaders Monday for their failure to pass the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law and said the lack of time was merely an excuse.

“Why did the leadership in the House allow the enemies of BBL to filibuster its passage?” the MILF said in a statement posted on its website, one day after the administration gave up on the law’s passage.

Without naming Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. or Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez who headed the ad hoc committee on the BBL, the MILF said “the man who was supposed to be the defender of the BBL in the… House was the one causing so much confusion, short of… open defiance.”

Disappointed. Members of the group 1Bangsa and other Moro chieftains express dismay over Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law during a media forum in Quezon City on Monday. Jansen Romero
The MILF also acknowledged the impact of public outrage over the killing of 44 Special Action Forces troopers in Mamasapano in January 2015, but said it should not have been branded a massacre, since the commandos were in combat, “ready to kill and be killed.”

The group also blamed sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas Jr. for violating the ceasefire between the rebels and the government, when he failed to coordinate the troop movement with the MILF.

“Nobody wanted the incident to happen, especially the MILF, but it happened. This is the reason the MILF, without distinction, expressed deep sympathy and condolence to all those who have fallen in Mamasapano on that fateful day of January 2015,” the MILF said.

“There are countless exceptions, but generally Filipinos are not ready for reconciliation. Congress had just shown it.”

The MILF made clear it did not blame President Benigno Aquino III, who pushed for the passage of the BBL. It also praised the efforts of Muslim lawmakers, particularly Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, and Reps. Tupay Loong, and Bai Sandra Sema.

Opposition lawmakers, on the other hand, said the administration had nobody else to blame but itself for the failure to pass a meaningful peace agreement with the Muslim rebels.

“The failure to pass a meaningful basic law was killed by President Aquino when he allowed the installment… emasculation by his allies of the original basic law submitted by the drafting commission,” said Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, on the other hand, said the negotiating panels were to blame.
“If the negotiating panels from the government and the MILF submitted to Congress a perfectly legal peace document, then it would be easy for Congress to work on this,” he said.

Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting defended Belmonte, saying it was unfair to blame him for the failure to pass the BBL.
“The Speaker did his best,” he said.

Earlier, Belmonte  admitted that the BBL had no chance of being passed in the 16th Congress.

 “[There is no] question that it won’t become a law even if we pass our version, [because] the Senate has not been acting on it,” Belmonte said.
BBL advocates in the House such as Balindong said Congress wasted too much time, and admitted that he was no longer hopeful that the bill would pass with only two session days left.

The BBL, the lynchpin in the government’s peace accord with the MILF, was supposed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new Bangsamoro region with more autonomy.

The proposed BBL, if passed into law, shall abolish the current ARMM by creating a new Bangsamoro region which will be given additional autonomy.

But lawmakers objected to provisions that they said were unconstitutional, and efforts to pass the bill were derailed by the Mamasapano massacre.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said even if this Congress does not pass the BBL, the peace agreement is not dead.

“I think it is to the national interest that whoever is the next president should pursue the peace process,” he said Monday.

The BBL, he said, should be filed again in the 17th Congress.

The Palace said the government is continuing to strengthen the mechanisms for a peaceful transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the non-passage of the BBL meant the rebels would not surrender their weapons under the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“So what we are doing is strengthening the mechanisms for the peaceful transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro, which is the core of roadmap for the full settlement of the armed conflict,” Coloma said.

The government’s chief peace negotiator admitted Sunday that the Bangsamoro Basic Law was dead and urged the next administration to pick up where the Aquino administration left off.

In an interview over radio dzBB, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, who headed the peace negotiations with the MILF, said there was no hope that Congress would pass the Palace-backed BBL with a few session days left.

She also urged the MILF not to use its 10,000 firearms during the coming elections. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Sandy Araneta

Topics: MILF , BBL , Disappointed
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