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Friday, April 19, 2024

No need to rush draft Moro law, MILF’s Jaafar declares

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CAMP DARAPANAN— The Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it was not in a hurry for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law which will establish a Moro self-rule in the provinces covered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao  and few adjacent local government units. 

MILF First Vice Chairman Ghazzali Jaafar said that while many Moro groups were keen on the passage of the BBL by Congress “in order to achieve just and dignified peace, we, in the MILF, are not in a hurry for the BBL.”

Invited Friday to a pro-BBL rally of civil society organizations in Cotabato City, Jaafar told reporters that it was the people that were actually getting “impatient of the peace process that has been going on for almost 30 years.”

On Friday, about 500 people marched their way to the ARMM Government Center in Cotabato City to demand for the timely enactment by Congress of the new BBL draft.

Musa Mascud, spokesperson for the Sustainable Initiatives of Grassroots and Networks for BBL or SIGN-BBL, said: “On the part of the civil society organizations, this is to push for the passage of the BBL in both Houses of Congress in order to help propel the peace process to its logical conclusion.”

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The ARMM government also joined the call on Congress to pass the BBL, as an instrument of peace designed to address one of the longest armed conflict in history.

At the same gathering, lawyer Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary, said ending armed conflict has been a common agenda and an aspiration shared by many peoples in many parts of the world.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed the Malacañang-endorsed version of the BBL. Lanao del Norte Rep. Muhammad Khalil Dimaporo and Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali, also separately filed their versions of the Bill.   

The BBL was drafted by the Expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission, chaired by Jaafar, and was composed of representatives from the MILF, the Philippine government, the Moro National Liberation Front under Yusof Jikiri and Muslimen Sema, as well as from the Indigenous People’s Tribes and Christian Settlers. They were appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte in March.

In  2015, supporters for the passage of the BBL hued to what they perceived were efforts in Congress to “dilute” the proposed law from its original substance. The first BBL was written by BTC commissioners appointed by then President Benigno Aquino III. But the 16th Congress then failed to pass the proposed law.

According to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Raynato Puno, constitutional challenge previously raised by lawmakers could hamper the passage of the new BBL draft.

Speaking as a Malacanang resource person on the new BBL, Puno said the best way for the government and the Moro people to gain hard push for that legislative agenda is to accommodate the law via the process of Constitutional amendment.

“This is to enable the country to deal with the demands of our Muslim brothers to have their own homeland which they can govern based on their culture, religion, language and history,” Puno told a news conference in Malacanang on Thursday.

Puno said: “It will be very difficult for this bill [BBL] to overcome a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court, because we have a unitary government that is not empowered to grant the identity-based demands of our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Mr. Duterte has since the time of his Presidential campaign made open his preference for a Constitutional amendment to change the form of government “from a highly unitary, centralized government to federal system.”

“The aspiration of our Muslim brothers cannot be substantially granted unless we change our unitary government,” Puno said.  

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