MILF, MNLF to Work on New Bangsamoro Law

Manila, Philippines, 14 Ramadan 1437/20 June 2016 (MINA) – The two largest Moro groups in the country will craft a new proposal that will grant greater autonomy to Bangsamoro hoping this will finally lead to a lasting peace in strife-torn Mindanao.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will hold a “Moro convention” to allow stakeholders to provide inputs on the proposal, which will refine the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

It will be held within the year either in Manila or Davao, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported, quoting Philstar.

“This Moro convention will adopt a law that will be presented to the Duterte government, a law that will be our own state,” MNLF Chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto said in a press conference Sunday night here.

“It will represent the Bangsamoro. It will no longer be the MNLF and the MILF. There’ll be no more fronts. They will be talking about the Bangsamoro,” he added.

Alonto added that the new proposal will “provide a final resolution to the Mindanao conflict” and will be formulated by the “best and the brightest” from Bangsamoro communities.

“This convention will craft the law based and inspired by the Bangsamoro Basic Law, an improved, inclusive, all-embracing (legislation) that we will present to the Duterte government for an easier and a smooth sailing move towards a federal system of government,” the MNLF chairman said.

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“This is not a separate step towards the federalization of this country. In fact, this is in consonance with the move of our president-elect (Rodrigo) Duterte to adopt the federal system,” he added.

 
Veering away from BBL

Alonto, however, does not want the joint autonomy proposal to be associated with the BBL.

Passage of the BBL in the Senate and the House of Representatives was stalled after the Mamasapano encounter in January 2015, where more than 60 people were killed in a police operation against international terrorists in a remote village in Maguindanao province. Aside from 44 elite police troopers, 18 MILF fighters and several civilians were also killed in the clash.

A priority measure of the outgoing Aquino administration, BBL seeks to establish a new Bangsamoro region that will replace what is now known as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The measure will implement the peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014.

Opponents of the BBL said that some of its provisions violated the 1987 Constitution and that it needed to include the MNLF, with which the government signed a separate peace agreement in 1996.

Legislation on the proposed Bangsamoro region, which would have more powers than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was shelved due to lack of a quorum in Congress and because of preparations for the May 9 elections.

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“If you talk about the BBL, immediately what you mean is negativism. What will come to mind is Mamasapano. We want to avoid that. We are putting an end to the tragic incident in this country and for us it’s a betrayal. People responsible should be made to pay for that,” Alonto said.

“I’d rather talk about a state law on federalism. We’re not doing away the salient points (of BBL). They will be presented for them to be pursued or perfected or improved,” he added.

 

 

Support for federalism

In a separate statement, the MILF said that it is time for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which it signed with the government in 2014, to be implemented. In an editorial on luwaran.com, the MILF said there have been sufficient consultations on the BBL, which is based on the CAB.

The group said, however, that it is open to refining the draft of the BBL to ensure its passage.

“[President-elect Rodrigo] Duterte had solemnly pledged during the presidential campaign in May this year that he would solve the ‘legitimate grievances’ of the Bangsamoro people and ‘nothing,’ he said further, ‘can satisfy them except passing the BBL,’” the MILF said.

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“We hold on to this promise as sacred, and we believe in him. All his close friends for years whom we talked to attested to his loyalty to friendship, and once he commits, he fulfills (his commitment).”

On Friday, Duterte met with leaders of the MNLF and the MILF and both groups expressed support for a shift to a federal form of government.

“A federal system could very well put in place a government of transparency and accountability, and effectively address the peace and order problems, including drug trafficking and kidnap for ransom,” Alonto said then.

MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar, meanwhile, said the meeting was meant “to unify the position of the Bangsamoro leaders by way of convergence, to resolve those concerns that have been addressed separately.”

Jaafar previously said his group wants the Bangsamoro government to be established first before the planned shift to federalism. He said the implementation of the 2014 peace deal might be delayed if the BBL is subsumed by the proposal to establish federalism.

Alonto said they would start discussing details of the convention after the holy month of Ramadan ends this month. Representatives from political groups, religious, academic, and business communities will also be invited to the summit. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)