Malacañang said it hopes that the next administration will prioritize the peace process with the Muslim rebels because the current government has already invested a lot in attaining peace in Mindanao.
In a radio interview Saturday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the appeal even after incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said they will not prioritize the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law because of the federalism championed by President-apparent Rodrigo Duterte.
“The final decision on what laws to pass is within the mandate of Congress. And there is separation of powers—legislative, executive and judiciary—in our system of government, Coloma said.
“But our discussion on [the peace process] is not in a vacuum. We can only renew our call to thoroughly study and ensure that the peace process is not stalled because our government and our people have already invested much in that,” he added.
Despite Alvarez’s declaration, however, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front insisted on the need for a new autonomy law for Muslim Mindanao after the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law failed to be enacted by the 16th Congress.
“We will continue to insist on the implementation of the peace process,” said MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
Iqbal said it was important to differentiate Alvarez’s “personal point of view” with the policy of the incoming Duterte administration.
Iqbal stressed that that Philippine government already signed the Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiation with the MILF in 2010 and that cannot just be ignored.
The MILF, in its website, insisted that the agreement provides that the Philippine government resume peace talks where they stopped or were forced to discontinue.
“Government cannot just set this aside. It is an obligation by both parties because it was an agreement we both signed,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal reminded the incoming administration that negotiations between the MILF and the government have been completed and both parties have already signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
But questions on the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the killing of 44 police commandos in an anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2014 derailed the peace process.