Palace Optimistic on Passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law

Duterte with Ghadzali Jaafar (C), MILF vice chair for political affairs, and Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) Chief of Staff, Sammy Al-Mansour.

Manila, Philippines, MINA – Malacañang is optimistic that Congress will pass the new Bangsamoro Basic Law despite claims that it still contains the contentious provisions that were in the previous draft, Philstar reported.

The BBL, the measure that would implement the 2014 peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was bypassed by the previous Congress in the wake of claims that some of its provisions were unconstitutional.

The passage of the bill, one of the priorities of the Aquino administration, was also hampered by the backlash over the Mamasapano clash, which left 44 police commandos dead in 2015. The BBL would have created a new Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao with greater economic and political powers.

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Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella believes lawmakers will agree with the provisions of the new draft BBL, which was submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte this month.

“I believe circumstances have changed in the Senate. And the Congress understands the situation at hand on the ground. And I believe that they will concur, that they will understand the situation,” he said in a press briefing Tuesday in Malacañang.


Questioned provisions

Among the provisions being questioned is the one that permits contiguous areas with a resolution from local governments or petitions by at least 10 percent of registered voters to join the plebiscite on the new Bangsamoro entity.

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Another provision being challenged by critics is the one allowing the holding of plebiscites in areas that were not able to join the Bangsamoro entity every five years after the BBL is ratified.

Abella also responded to questions about the president’s authority to enter into deals with the MILF, saying the group acts as a “principal party” in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The CAB is the formal name of the peace deal between the government and the MILF.

“The nature of the MILF is that it is a revolutionary organization. Members (join the) organization because they believe in its aims. To obtain their demand, the Moro exercise their right to self-determination, they waged a war against the government,” Abella said.

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“In order to stop the violence, government and the MILF agreed to start peace negotiations in 1997. Although the MILF acts as a principal party in the CAB, the issues discussed reflect the grievances of the Moros for social justice and self-determination,” he added.

Abella said the CAB and the draft BBL were crafted after a series of consultations with various stakeholders.

Duterte has said he will certify the BBL as an urgent bill, believing it will lead to lasting peace in Mindanao.

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)