Duterte Worried Bangsamoro Law Might Not Address Ethnic Rivalries

President Duterte said he is worried the BBL might not address ethnic differences within the proposed Bangsamoro region – Presidential Photo.

Sulu, Philippines, MINA — President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that he will look closely at the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying he doubts if it will address ethnic divisions in the Muslim region.

Duterte said this as he addressed the residents of Sulu, many of whom are of the Tausug people, at the provincial gymnasium there. He gave the speech after closed-door talks with provincial and local leaders led by Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan II.

“This BBL, it is going on in Congress, let us look at it closely. I am a little worried, would it do well to mix it all in one pot?” Philstar quoted Duterte as saying in English and Filipino.

Duterte said he wants to make sure that the sentiments of all indigenous people that will be included in the new Bangsamoro region would be reflected in the new law.

“Meaning to say if you Tausug want the Maranao will lead like the present ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” Duterte said.

ARMM Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman is actually a Yakan from Basilan province. He succeeded Ansaruddin-Abdulmalik Adiong, a Maranao, and Zaldy Ampatuan, a Maguindanaon. Ampatuan, whom Adiong replaced in 2009 in the aftermath of the Ampatuan massacre, succeeded Parouk Hussin, a Tausug.

The position of regional governor is elective.

Rivalry between rebel groups

Duterte told local leaders and residents that he is aware of the sentiments of Sulu towards the government.

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He said solidarity between the rebel groups has not been addressed before and will remain a problem if the BBL will be implemented.

“That is now my problem while the BBL is being processed in Congress and when the time comes, who heads what? Whether it will be to each his own or you will place it in a governing authority and who will it be?” Duterte, whose office endorsed and presumably reviewed the draft BBL before submitting it to Congress, said.

According to the draft BBL published by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, a Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be the interim governing body of the proposed Bangsamoro region.

“The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, being the principal party to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, shall lead the BTA, in its leadership and membership,” the draft reads. “The BTA shall be composed of 80 members, all of whom shall be appointed by the president,” it also reads.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is the final peace agrement between the government and the MILF, which was signed in 2014 and is meant to be implemented by the passage of the BBL.

The draft also holds that “non-Moro indigenous communities, youth, women, settler communities, traditional leaders, and other sectors shall have representatives in the BTA.”

The BTA will be replaced by an 80-seat Bangsamoro Parliament “who are representatives of political parties elected through a system of proportional representation, those elected from single member districts and to reserved seats to represent key sectors in the Bangsamoro.”

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The draft BBL also holds that the Bangsamoro Parliament will have “reserved seats for the non-Moro indigenous peoples, such as, but not limited to, Teduray, Lambangian, Dulangan Manobo, B’laan and Higaonon.”

Duterte: Different leadership by region or group

Duterte said he has to look into a different leadership by region or ethnic group, but with one governing authority to resolve the issue that may affect the implementation of the BBL in the future.

“I have to fathom it, meaning I have to dive and get what is deeper,” he said of the draft law that he endorsed to Congress. “That’s why I need to talk to you and want to finish it this week.”

Duterte said he would later also sit with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Ebrahim Murad and Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari to iron out the issues between the two groups.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

The 2013 siege of Zamboanga City by an MNLF faction associated with Misuari is believed to have been meant to preempt the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro amid concerns that the agreement with the MNLF would be set aside.

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Misuari and others from his faction face charges of rebellion and crimes against humanity before the Pasig City Regional Trial Court in connection with the siege, which left more than 100 people dead and over 120,000 displaced.

“I want to have a result of this by the end of the year. I want it solve to the best way that is acceptable to everybody and not just one as it will not promote anything and we will be back to Square One,” Duterte said.

Duterte: Failure to pass BBL will bring more conflict

The president previously warned that failure to pass the measure would bring more conflict in Mindanao and provide terrorists opportunity to recruit new members.

“These small things, if I do not solve them, they will lose their confidence in me… Ultimately, the nation will be destroyed. It will create an uncertainty,” Duterte previously said.

“The Malaysians, the Vietnamese will ask me ‘can you handle the Philippines? Can you fight the NPA (New People’s Army) and the Abu Sayyaf who keeps on decapitating (people)?'”

Duterte assured the people of Jolo that he is committed to bring lasting peace in the country.

“I am pleading for peace, peace for everyone,” the President said. — with Alexis Romero and Jonathan de Santos in Manila (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)