MILF Remains Hopeful for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)

Ozamit City, Philippines, 15 Sya’ban 1437/23 May 2016 (MINA) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has expressed hope that presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte will organise the peace team of his administration on this basis.

“How we wish that the names we know will find space in the new peace team of the new administration,” said a recent MILF statement posted on its official website.

“We hope sincerely that the peace team of the new administration would include men and women whose track record, integrity and commitment are beyond reproach because an honest-to-goodness negotiation and a problem-solving exercise would require negotiators on both sides to have high regard and trust for each other,” the MILF said.

The group did not offer any names, inquirer.net reported, as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

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Duterte has announced his choice of lawyer Jesus Dureza to head the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp), a cabinet portfolio he used to hold during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Dureza himself used to head the government panel in peace talks with the MILF.

Duterte also named 1BAP party-list Rep Silvestre Bello III as his choice to head the peace panel for negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) but has yet to reveal his choice on who will head the Bangsamoro peace process.

The MILF and civil society groups also asked the incoming Duterte administration to start where the Aquino administration left off, which is to work for the early passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.

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The MILF said this expectation is based on what has become established protocols in the peace process across four presidential administrations.

“In essence, the principle that has long been followed by the parties in their long and harsh negotiation is that … they will continue and start from (where) they stopped or (were) forced to discontinue. The principle of as is, where is applies,” the MILF said.

“The temporary halt in the process may be a consequence of major obstacles like all-out war or shortness of time of the administration in power like that of President Fidel V Ramos, but still the protocol is observed,” the group said.

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“The negotiation during the Estrada administration proceeded from and built upon the gains of the negotiation during the Ramos administration, so on and so forth up to the Arroyo administration,” it said.

Toward the end of the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010, the parties inked a Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiation.

The MILF hopes a similar instrument can be forged with the outgoing administration of President Aquino.

“Unlike in the previous presidencies after Ramos, the current transition will not be about continuity in negotiations but continuity in the implementation of a peace agreement,” the MILF said.  (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)