Moro fronts urged to dialogue, unite in Bangsamoro Law PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 13:32

Lawmakers on Tuesday urged Moro fronts to dialogue, compromise, and forge unity on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that is being reviewed by Congress for passage early this year.

Representatives from different groups of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) served as resource persons during the 35th public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL on January 20 at the Batasan complex. Leaders of the Federation of Sultanates were also present as well as Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) President Amina Rasul.?

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon asked resource persons from the two Moro fronts on the possibility of “reconciling their differences (on the BBL).”

Biazon reiterated the need for compromise among the diverse Muslim communities, Christian settlers, and Indigenous Peoples in the proposed Bangsamoro territory, as the Congress will pass only one law.

Ad Hoc Committee chair Rufus Rodriguez, Representative of the second district of  Cagayan de Oro City, mentioned that there is the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The BCF serves as the mechanism for the MNLF and MILF to “coordinate their movements toward achieving the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people towards just and lasting peace, and peaceful resolution of their problems.”

Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong underscored that “reconciliation (in opinions or interests) is a challenge to all of us.” He meant that even Muslims and Bangsamoro lawmakers in the House of Representatives should also be part of the effort to forge unity among the Bangsamoro groups “to come up with a solid position so the Ad Hoc Committee will not face hardships in passing the BBL.”

Loong, the chair of the Committee of Muslim Affairs, suggested that he will invite the Moro fronts for a discussion on issues on the Bangsamoro bill. Citing optimism that Bangsamoro groups can sit down together, he asked time for the discussion to happen so that the Moro fronts can “come to common ground.”

South Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez shared his optimism that it is possible for Moro fronts to unite. “I think all factions here are open to threshing out differences and coming up with one position on the BBL.”?

He emphasized that the Ad Hoc Committee made numerous public consultations “because we want to come up with a BBL that is acceptable and doable. We are putting a lot of efforts on this because we want this to succeed.”

Bangsamoro gov’t inclusive, open for participation

Meanwhile, Bukidnon Governor Jose Zubiri, who was present during the hearing earlier encouraged that “all sectors of Muslims come together and support one Bangsamoro.”

Government of the Philippines (GPH) Peace Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer echoed the call of Zubiri for “our brothers and sisters of the Bangsamoro to sit down and discuss how they can further their unity and also the kind of arrangement that they may obtain among themselves so that all together, we will be moving forward towards the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

Coronel-Ferrer stressed that that intention of the BBL “is to create a democratic institution that will enable that kind of broad popular participation and representation from the different segments of the populace that will fall under the future Bangsamoro autonomous government.”

She urged participation in the elections for the future Bangsamoro government “through the political parties that are being opened up for formation and participation in the Bangsamoro parliament.” The government chief negotiator noted that the Bangsamoro Parliament itself will be made up of a much bigger set of representation through the party-list system.

Moro fronts’ views on BBL

The MNLF group under the leadership of Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, during the public hearing, expressed full support to the signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the passage of the BBL. Alonto earlier signed a communique with MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on January 5 at Camp Darapanan, that says both Moro fronts agree to “continue working together to foster strong Unity, Solidarity and Brotherhood as one Bangsamoro people.”

On the other hand, the MNLF group under the leadership of Muslimin Sema, clarified that they “are not against CAB and BBL in the furtherance of peace in our homeland.” However, they see the CAB as a partial fulfilment of both the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Sema, nevertheless, ended with a positive note that “We will not set aside all that we have gained in the years of peacemaking. We can work on current legislative process to preserve the gains of FPA, if the CAB is converged and linked to two previous agreements.” He said that both MNLF and MILF accepted autonomy to address the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination. However, it “should be comprehensive autonomy.”

On his part, MILF Peace Panel Chair and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Mohagher Iqbal said that the MILF and MNLF are actually in talking terms. “We have met with MNLF several times. We are reaching out to everybody. We are doing it in most practical way and I think we are proceeding and succeeding.”