Sulu solon warns of ‘war’ after failure of BBL passage PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 11:00

By  NONOY E. LACSON

A former rebel leader turned congressman warned on Tuesday that the failure by Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would have sealed a peace agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) might push the one time largest rebel group to again “go to war”.

Rep. Habib Tupay Loong of Sulu province said the country cannot afford to allow war to prevail as an option for the government and the Bangsamoro people to settle the conflict in southern Philippines because “it will only bring death and destruction to the nation and will only divide the people of Mindanao (island.”

“But I cannot stop the Bangsamoro people if they opt to traverse the dangerous and destructive path of war to preserve their religion, protect themselves and recover their ancestral homeland.

The congressman, a former leader of the original rebel organization Moro Liberation Front (MNLF) hoped that the Bangsamoro people will not opt to return to the battlefield and start a shooting war to pursue their aspirations.

Loong and seven other feared MNLF leaders and their men based Sulu accepted the government offer to surrender in the late 70s. The MNLF since then signed a peace accord withe government in 1996.

Loong showed a copy of his privilege speech he delivered on Monday, which states that the Bangsamoro people went to war more than 43 years ago “to liberate themselves from internal colonization, injustices and discrimination.”

He said  the Moros are ready to die for the cause of their people, their faith, and their homeland, because to them such death is a blessed death according to Islamic teaching.

But Islam is a religion of peace, and the Bangsamoro people sincerely accepted to negotiate and enter into peace agreement with the Philippine government which has later failed, he said.

Loong  said Congress has failed to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law because of differences in belief among House members.

He emphasized that he is sure, each one of them (congressmen) has the best intentions) for the  nation in their heart but  in spite of this, they  cannot reconcile their differences.

Loong lamented that most congressmen  has failed in their role as  legislators that is to provide legislative support necessary to finally end the Bangsamoro secession problem  and bring peace and unity  in southern Philippines.

Loong added that the government cannot continue to stretch and exhaust the patience of the “oppressed people to wait and hope” because waiting and hoping have their “ultimate time  limit.”

“The “Bangsamoro problem is not a constitutional problem, but a political problem which should be solved politically,” he said. “I am sad that after more than 17 years of arduous negotiation between the Philippine government and the MILF, the BBL, as an instrument of peace, congressmen has failed to pass it.”

Loong’s statement comes as Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Monday the peace agreement with the MILF still holds, adding that the next president should continue the peace process with the MILF.

“We cannot finish the BBL by the time we adjourn on Wednesday, but that does not mean that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is dead,” GMA News quoted Drilon as saying.

“I think it is to the national interest that whoever is the next president should pursue the peace process,” he added.

Asked if the Senate could tackle the BBL when Congress resumes its session on May 23, Drilon said he could not say for certain as it would be resuming as the National Board of Canvassers.

“Whether or not we can resume sessions for purposes of the bills that are pending is beyond me to predict at this point,” Drilon said.

He said the BBL was still on the agenda but only for the purpose of finishing the period of interpellations. — Nonoy E. Lacson