Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez must take the initiative to advocate for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law by signing as principal author of the measure.
Former Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal made the urging to Alvarez, a Mindanaoan, at a book launching of “Beyond Peace Tables: Reflections on the GPH-MILF Process,” authored by Dato Tengku Abdul Ghafar, Malaysian facilitator of the GPH-MILF peace talks.
The book launch was held at the House of Representatives, Batasan Complex, Quezon City and was sponsored by the House special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity chaired by Tawi-tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali.
Iqbal said the BBL version that was submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission should be the one to get passed.
“Any other proposed bill, like or similar or lesser than Republic Act 9054 that created the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is a violation of the agreements of the parties, and more seriously, will only prolong the sufferings and agonies of the people,” Iqbal said.
He said lawmakers “should look at the Bangsamoro problem as “a political and not a purely legal issue.”
So far, former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was the only member of the 17th Congress to file the BBL measure, through House Bill 6121 or the “Basic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”
The bill was in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for a “just and lasting peace for a unified nation,” Arroyo said in filing the bill.
Alvarez, for his part, assured the stakeholders concerned that the Lower House will do its “part to help find peace in Mindanao.”
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that Filipino Muslims and Christians united amid a new threat coming from Islamist militants, espousing an extremist and violent ideology radically different from Islam’s tenets of peace and bortherhood,” said Alvarez in a speech read by Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema.
Alvarez and Iqbal both acknowledged Ghafar’s role in bridging a peace pact between the Philippine government and the MILF.