MILF: Pass BBL with no changes
MILF: Pass BBL with no changes
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2015 - 1:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has asked the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “with no changes.”

The BBL is seen as the implementation of the peace agreement the MILF has signed with the government, which is contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and their annexes.

In a letter to the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said his organization trusts “that Congress will pass the mutually agreed BBL draft with no changes and without diminishing, diluting or watering down its provisions, except probably for minor changes or changes that clearly improve it or enhance it.”

He repeatedly reiterated in his letter their group’s desire for lawmakers to keep intact the BBL “draft” or “text,” which, he emphasized, was “mutually agreed” by the government and the MILF.

He said a joint government-MILF body called Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) wrote the draft with “congressional sanction through congressional resolutions.”

MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal chaired the BTC.

“After the BTC submitted the BBL to the President, the legal team of the Office of the President headed by no less than the executive secretary, conducted its legal due diligence with the MILF representatives and its legal team, accordingly making sure that the mutually agreed text of the BBL is within the flexibilities of the Constitution,” Ebrahim said.

“Thus, the mutually agreed BBL draft was transmitted to Congress by the President as a priority legislation and administration bill,” he said.

He informed the congressmen that the MILF was in the process of organizing its own political organization called United Bangsamoro Justice Party in anticipation of the approval of the BBL.

The proposed law would create a new Bangsamoro region that would replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Any deviation from the mutually agreed text of the BBL may curtail this process of political mainstreaming,” the MILF chief said.

“We appeal to Congress to do its part in fulfilling the commitment of the Philippine government and the MILF to a politically negotiated settlement of the Moro grievances by passing the mutually agreed BBL draft without watering down its provisions, as feared by many of our constituencies in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

The highest-ranking MILF leader indicated that his organization had the impression that President Aquino could bind Congress and the Supreme Court on the BBL.

He said in entering the peace negotiations, the MILF had the “understanding that it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or ‘whole government,’ especially since, among other reasons, the commander-in-chief powers of the President allow him to bind the whole of government, including its different branches.”

He said the “onus or the principal burden of implementing the FAB and its annexes and the CAB through the expeditious passage of the mutually agreed text of the BBL” now rests with the government.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat revealed the letter in a news forum in Quezon City last Thursday.

It was sent to ad hoc committee chairman Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City on Dec. 29, 2014, less than a month before MILF fighters clashed with policemen out to arrest two terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The Moro rebels killed 44 policemen. The MILF suffered 18 dead, as well a few civilians caught in the crossfire.

Lobregat said Rodriguez read the letter to committee members in one of their closed-door meetings.

“We will do what we want with the BBL. We have a democratic system of government, which has three branches,” he quoted Rodriguez as telling his colleagues.

He said the MILF would not get what it wants – keeping the draft BBL intact or almost intact.

Curiously, he added that Ebrahim did not say in his letter what the MILF would do if a BBL that is not to their liking were not enacted.

The Rodriguez committee, which is drafting its version of the BBL, has indefinitely suspended its work to give way to investigations on the Mamasapano carnage.

Testifying before the Senate last Thursday, Iqbal said they would not go back to war if Congress passes its own version of the proposed Bangsamoro law.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano asked him what would happen if they lose in the projected election of new regional officials.

“Eh di talo (Then we are defeated),” he responded.

What if they win? “Eh di maganda (That’s good for us),” he shot back.

AGREED AL HAJ MURAD EBRAHIM ALAN PETER CAYETANO AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGSAMORO BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BANGSAMORO TRANSITION COMMISSION BBL GOVERNMENT MILF
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