BTC lawyer insists on including 39 villages, 6 towns in Bangsamoro region
Residents from 39 North Cotabato villages and six Lanao del Norte towns might refuse to ‘decommission’ or lay down their arms if they are not included in the proposed Bangsamoro region under the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a lawyer of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) warned on Wednesday.
“Pag hindi natin nasali ‘yung anim na munisipyo ng Lanao del Norte at 39 barangays ng (North Cotabato) baka hindi na rin sila sumama sa decommissioning. Ibig sabihin hindi po sila magbababa ng armas nila,” lawyer Algamar Latiph said in a press conference at the sidelines of the bicameral conference panel meetings on BBL in Pasig City.
(If the six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 villages in North Cotabato are not included, they may not opt to join the ‘decommissioning,’ which means that they will not lay down their arms.)
“So maghihintay po ba tayo ng panibagong digmaan bago iresolba ito (Are we going to wait for another war to solve this)?” he asked.
He insisted that desire of the residents from the said areas, if left unfulfilled, might trigger another instability in Mindanao.
“Malaking possibility, ‘yung nangyari sa Marawi ay frustration nila ito sa mabagal na pag-usad ng peace process at ‘di pagpasa ng BBL noong nakaraang 16th Congress,” Algamar said.
(It’s a big possibility. What happened in Marawi is part of their frustration for the slow progress of the peace process and for the failure of the 16th Congress to pass the BBL.)
The lawyer, who is also an advocate of the passage of the BTC version of the BBL that is compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), commented on the issue after Lanao del Norte 1st District Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo said he would question before the Supreme Court (SC) the constitutionality of the inclusion of the said areas in the Bangsamoro region.
Dimaporo said the inclusion of the 39 North Cotabato villages and six Lanao del Norte municipalities in the proposed Bangsamoro region is unconstitutional.
The CAB, a peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, 2014, was aimed at ending the decades-old armed conflict in the southern region.
READ: What is the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro?
Under the Senate’s version of the BBL, Senate Bill 1717, the 39 villages and six municipalities will automatically be included in the Bangsamoro region once their residents vote in favor of their inclusion through a plebiscite.
Votes from other areas in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will not matter in this scenario.
House Bill 6475, meanwhile, stated that the areas may be included on two conditions: first, if the village and town residents vote yes to their inclusion; and second, if the majority in the entire provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will agree.
The debates on the BBL provision on territory and plebiscite were earlier put on hold by the panel due to its contentious and controversial nature.
Bicam chairs Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, as well as bicam members Senator Aquilino Pimentell III, Dimaporo, and Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, will seek the advice of President Rodrigo Duterte on this issue on Wednesday afternoon. — With reports from Syrah Vivien Inocencio/INQUIRER.net /ee
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