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Duterte assures MILF of ‘Bangsamoro‘ okay

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that he will pass an executive order creating a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao should Congress fail to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“Stressing that he can use the inherent powers of the presidency, [the President] is ready to carve out through an executive order the area for the Bangsamoro for their self-rule,” Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said Wednesday.

Duterte, who met with top MILF officials recently, echoed his vow for the early passage of the BBL ahead of the federalism proposals being discussed in Congress.

“The President met with the MILF leaders headed by Kagi Ibrahim Murad late afternoon Monday in Davao City, and reassured them he would push for an early passage of the law for the Bangsamoro ahead of the shift to federalism,” Dureza said. 

Previously, the MILF warned of a possible leadership vacuum in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao if government fails to pass the long-awaited Bangsamoro Basic Law―a campaign promise of Duterte―before the year ends.

In a statement issued Monday, MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar hoped that Congress will make good on its promise to pass the BBL this year.

“We are hoping this happens soon because the terms of the [regional legislative] assemblymen of ARMM end in 2019,” Jaafar said. “When these leaders’ terms end and there’s no law for a Bangsamoro government, the national government will have problems created by the vacuum of governance,” Jaafar, who is also the chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, warned.

He said the government should fast-track the legislation of the bill, which is needed for a plebiscite within the Bangsamoro government’s territory.

If the BBL is passed by March or June this year, Jaafar said it would be perfect timing for a plebiscite to take place, “for the people to ratify whether they will approve or reject the BBL.”

MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal said Congress can “technically enhance” the BBL, but the changes “should still be consistent with the signed agreements.”

“Of course, when we submitted the BBL to Office of the President and eventually to Congress of the Philippines, we were not saying that Congress cannot improve and enhance the BBL,” Iqbal said.

It is crucial, Iqbal said, for the law to be consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and “the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.”

“Because if the law passed by Congress will not address the concerns and aspirations of the Moro people, then you know giving bad medicine is worse than not giving medicine at all. We want a good BBL that would really address the problems of Mindanao,” he said.

The BBL legislation should happen this year, Iqbal said, especially since both the Speaker of the House (Pantaleon Alvarez) and Senate President (Koko Pimentel) are from Mindanao.

“The President’s allies in both the lower and upper house are in control of Congress, so he can do it if he wants to pass the BBL, and we are very sure about that,” he said.

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed in 2012 and the comprehensive agreement forged by the government and the MILF in 2014 signaled that the elusive peace in Mindanao is now within reach, Iqbal said.

However, if the Congress will enact a Bangsamoro law “that is lesser than the aspirations of Bangsamoro people, then it will not address the four-decade conflict in Mindanao,” the MILF said previously.

Topics: MILF , BBL , Rody Duterte
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