Bangsamoro bill provides continuity of Mindanao peace deals, authors assure PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 June 2015 14:34

Authors of the substitute bill of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the House of Representatives have assured Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate committee tackling the Bangsamoro bil in the Upper Chamber, that the House ad hoc committee conducted due diligence to ensure that the bill currently being deliberated on the plenary of the Lower House is constitutional and responsive to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

“Senator Marcos asked me if the BBL would be accepted by the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front). I told him yes because there would be no MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) without the MNLF. Even if they are not united now, they will have to unite because they are fighting for the same history, the same people, and the same region," said Sulu 1st district Rep. and Ad hoc Committee vice chair Tupay Loong during a media forum. Loong was joined by Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. and Ad hoc Committee Chair Rufus Rodriguez and Basilan Rep and Ad Hoc Committee Vice Chair Jim Hataman-Salliman.

The Philippine government is in the middle of a tripartite review on the 1996 Final Peace Agreement forged with the MNLF as brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

It would be remembered that OIC Secretary General Iyad bin Amin Madani activated the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) to help converge the separate but parallel peace processes with the MNLF and the MILF.

“I think most of the questions of our colleagues in the House revolve around the opt-in clause, said Rodriguez.

“The contiguity is by land, and never by sea. To those expressing reservations because they are adjacent to a local government unit which is adjacent to the proposed Bangsamoro region, I think that’s far-fetch speculation and that their fears are groundless.”

The ad hoc committee reworded the opt-in clause in the original BBL to ensure that the only areas that could opt-in were those contiguous and mentioned in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. “That leaves us with only three provinces that are eligible for the opt-in provision: North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Lanao del Norte." The substitute bill also provided only two chances to join the Bangsamoro, on the fifth and tenth year after the enactment of the law.

On passing the BLBAR next week

Loong appealed to his fellow lawmakers in the House as well as the Senate to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law because it is the country’s only opportunity for peace and development. “We are not asking for sovereignty. We are merely asking for the return of some of our rights such as self-determination and genuine autonomy. Please look into the BBL seriously because this bill provides this country with the opportunity of finally becoming one nation.”

“The ad hoc committee, through the amendments it introduced, was able to protect the integrity of the Philippines by ensuring social justice to all Filipinos and adhering to the 1987 Philippine Constitution. We are doing this now not because of political pressure, but because we can no longer make peace in Mindanao wait, added Hataman-Salliman.

Rodriguez said that the Bangsamoro initiative of the current administration now lies in the hands of Congress, "I hope Senate sees the importance of the passage of the BLBAR as it is positioned to bring complete security and stability not only in Mindanao, but for the whole country.”