BIFF warns of more attacks as it rejects Bangsamoro Organic Law
SULAN, Sultan Kudarat — The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a militant group linked to the Islamic State, warned of more attacks against government security forces as it rejected Sunday the proposed Bangsamoro Organiz Law, which would give more autonomy to Muslims in Mindanao, a promise of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The President is expected to sign the bill into law on Monday when he delivers his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Congress.
Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesman, said the bill, which would create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), would not solve the decades-old problem but will only create more problems.
“It will not bring peace,” Mama said. “Look, until now fighting there is fighting on the ground. The law will only benefit the leaders and not the people on the ground.”
The BIFF, with hundreds of fighters who broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2008, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. But it did not send fighters when the Maute Group laid siege to Marawi City last year.
The siege has reduced the city to rubble after five months of gun battles and airstrikes that killed 1,200 people, mostly militants.
In 2014, the MILF signed a peace deal with the government in exchange for expanded autonomy. But the BIFF had vowed to push on with its separatist fight, attracting younger, more hardline members of the MILF.
Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, said they were very happy with the version of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that passed Congress, as it was at least 85-percent compliant with the 2014 peace deal that this group signed with the government under Aquino administration.
In addressing the problems in Mindanao, Iqbal said his group would use its P60-billion block grant annually for education, social and health services.
“I think the compliance of the law that was passed in the bicameral conference committee is 85 percent to 90 percent. But as to the final assessment, that will be the decision of the leadership of the MILF,” he said. /atm
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