Peace panel repeats: Zambo not included in Bangsamoro territory PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 May 2015 16:52

The government peace panel for talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has reiterated that Zamboanga City is not included in the core territory of Bangsamoro.

The panel issued this statement as lauded the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for organizing public hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City May 13, and May 14, respectively.

“We thank Senator Marcos for steering the various public consultations on the BBL, particularly in these areas in Mindanao. We appreciate his efforts to expedite the completion of his committee’s report,” government peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.

Ferrer recalled that one of the big compromises in the agreement with the MILF is the exclusion of Zamboanga City in the prospective core territory of the Bangsamoro.

“We are happy to inform the good senator that in consideration of the results of previous plebiscites on the issue of inclusion in the autonomous region and in consideration also of the position undertaken by the leaders of Zamboanga City led by Rep. Celso Lobregat and Mayor Beng Climaco, the government and the MILF agreed not to include the city of Zamboanga in the plebiscite for the creation of the Bangsamoro,” she added.

Ferrer and panel members former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao, and lawyer Anna Tarhata Basman met with the senator last Monday to discuss pending concerns on the draft law.

“We had a frank discussion on an issue that particularly concerned the good senator, that is, what happens to non-contiguous barangays in North Cotabato that opt to join the Bangsamoro and the practical difficulties of administering such outlying barangays,” said Bacani.

“We recommended text that may be introduced such as the incorporation of these barangays to the nearest municipality on the Bangsamoro,” he added.

The leaderships of the Senate and the House of Representatives believe that the BBL will be enacted by June before Congress goes into a long recess. President Aquino said he hopes to sign the bill into law immediately after Congress has passed it. The organic law will then be submitted to the electorate of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi plus a few other municipalities in Central Mindanao for ratification in a plebiscite expected to be held in September.

Next week, Senator Marcos will consult with the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front, the various sultanates and royal houses and other indigenous groups to get their sentiments on the BBL.

Civil society groups in Mindanao are strongly urging Congress to approve a BBL consistent with the Philippine Constitution and the signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.