Malaysia Optimistic Efforts to Table BBL Can Continue Under Duterte Presidency

Presidential canditate Mar Roxas, left, shakes hand with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim.
Presidential canditate Mar Roxas, left, shakes hand with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim.

Kuala Lumpur, 17 Sya’ban 1437/26 May 2016 (MINA) – Malaysia is optimistic that the process of tabling the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) can be continued by the new Philippines administration.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said Rodrigo Duterte’s win in the presidential election could open a new chapter in Malaysia-Philippines bilateral ties and continue the process of tabling the BBL for passing by Congress.

Duterte,71, who is expected to be sworn in as President of the Philippines on June 30 was the mayor of Davao City for 22 years. Davao City was among the locations of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported, quoting Bernama.

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Reezal said IMT played a critical role in supporting the peace talks between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Davao City is considered the safest city in the Philippines. He (Duterte) is a populist and well known in Davao City.

“Duterte also made a statement that he was committed to continuing the peace talks in southern Philippines and develop the agricultural sector,” he told Dewan Rakyat, here today.

He was responding to a question from Datuk Sapawi Ahmad Wasali (BN-Sipitang) who want to know about Malaysia’s stand on the issue in southern Philippines Duterte following the election of Duterte as president.

Reezal said Malaysia who accepted the role as facilitator to the peace process between the Philippines government and the MILF since 2001, has succeeded and led to the agreement for the establishment of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014.

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“Following the agreement, both parties provided a draft bill called the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which was brought to the Senate but could not be considered by Congress which stopped proceedings on February 5, 2016 to make way for the presiddential election on May 9.”

BBL aims to end the insurgency by separatists in Mindanao, which killed about 100,000 people since 1970, and created a Bangsamoro which allows autonomy for the Muslim minority in the Philippines.

Malaysia as a third party and a facilitator to the peace process will continue to monitor the status of implementation of CAB between the Philippines government and the MILF.

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Replying to a supplementary question from Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) on encroachment of Sabah waters, Reezal said various efforts were made to address the problem, including the latest measure of creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in maritime involving Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

“I understand that tomorrow is the first meeting of the technical level to establish the SOP at diplomatic level between the three countries to ensure cooperation in terms of patrolling, monitoring and information exchange to curb kidnappings,” he added. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)