On the ‘diluted’ Bangsamoro Basic Law | Aquino must step in, says MILF

“We do not know what made the review team look at the Moro Question as a purely legal matter.” – Moro Islamic Liberation Front

By DEE AYROSO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Three months after the much-hyped signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has urged President Aquino to step in on the peace process as it had hit a critical point, particularly in the proposed Bangsamoro charter.

The MILF had essentially gone head to head with the Office of the President (OP) regarding the need for constitutional amendments to be able to institute the proposed Bangsamoro charter. The OP reviewed and tried to modify the proposed legislation, which was expected to be certified by the president as an urgent bill and submitted at the opening of Congress on July 28.

“We do not know what made the review team look at the Moro Question as a purely legal matter. While we respect the Philippine Constitution, it is too shallow and limited to fully address this problem… the MILF is firm on its conviction that the current Constitution would require an amendment to finally put to rest the conflict in Mindanao. But the government side is equally firm on their stand that this Constitution has the flexibilities to accommodate and implement legally the (CAB),” said the July 8 editorial of luwaran.com, entitled “Moro question is political.”

MILF's Iqbal
MILF’s Iqbal (Bulatlat File Photo)

luwaran.com is the official website of the Central Committee of the MILF.

“It is time that on the side of the government, President Benigno Aquino III should personally attend to this issue. Success or failure, it is his name which will be at the forefront and at stake,” said the editorial.

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was submitted to President Aquino on April 22 by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The BBL contains the essential elements of the Bangsamoro agreement, and will be the governing law of the Bangsamoro political entity. Upon approval by Congress and ratified by voters in its covered areas, it will replace the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The BTC was created by Aquino by virtue of Executive Order 120 in late 2012.

On June 23, Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel and the BTC, received a copy of the proposed BBL with remarks from the Office of the President, which, he said, “heavily diluted the original proposal.” Quoting an MILF lawyer, Iqbal said that a law crafted out of it “would be worse than Republic Act 9054” which created the ARMM.

In statement read at a peace forum in Istanbul, Turkey in late June, Iqbal warned that “unless the Parties and the supporters and friends of the peace process come to the timely rescue and prevent the foreseeable collision of approaches of the two parties, the much-heralded signing of the CAB in Manila, Philippines last March will be over-shadowed by bickering, blaming, and shaming.”

“The direct consequence would be that the BBL will not be submitted to Congress on July 28, in time for the State-of-the Nation Address (SONA) in Congress of President Aquino, or the government would proceed to submit the BBL without the concurrence of the MILF,” Iqbal said. His statement, “Current state of peace negotiation between the GPH and the MILF” was posted by luwaran.com.

Iqbal noted that the BTC “copy-pasted” the essential elements of the CAB to the BBL, so as not to stir further negotiations on matters already agreed upon. He said the MILF position is that only matters that were not “expressedly provided (by CAB) but fleshed out by the BTC … could be the subject of subsequent engagement” between the GPH and the MILF. Matters that are “explicitly expressed and provided for” in the CAB “are finished and settled,” he said.

Iqbal also said “spoilers abound everywhere … ready to spew their venom at the first opportunity,” hinting at some government officials who try to muddle the peace process.

Iqbal gave special mention to “the government office tasked to oversee the conduct of the peace process…that led to the signing of the CAB” even “virtually led the review team of the OP to overhaul almost the entire proposal of the BTC” instead of defending it. The luwaran editorial mentioned “a former lady commissioner of the BTC who did not sign the proposed BBL.

“The truth is that like the MILF, not all in government prefer to solve this conflict in Mindanao through peaceful means and fairly,” the editorial said.

Yesterday, July 8, GPH panel head Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer issued a statement that the two panels, along with the Malaysian facilitator Tengku Ghafar and the members of the International Contact Group will be meeting this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to “thresh out the various substantive matters that have arisen from the BTC submission and the subsequent OP review.” (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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