Solon wants Nur Misuari, Umbra Kato to attend Bangsamoro bill hearings
MANILA, Philippines – A solon wants to invite Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) leader Ameril Umbra Kato during the House of Representatives committee deliberations of the recently submitted Bangsamoro basic bill.
In a phone interview on Monday, Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the ad hoc committee wants to hear the sides of those who oppose the proposed law seeking to implement the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Rodriguez said he has talked with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima about suspending the warrants of arrest against Misuari and Kato so they or their representatives could attend the committee hearings, which is set to start when Congress resumes from its break in October.
“The bill is for all Bangsamoro. It’s not only for the MILF. The proposed law is for all Bangsamoro, all provinces and sectors, and all Muslim groups,” said Rodriguez, who heads the ad hoc committee.
“I’d like to see them give a stand on whether or not they agree on the bill,” he added.
The MILF broke off from the MNLF due to shifting allegiances in leadership. Meanwhile, the BIFF split from the MILF in 2008 because the separatist group opposed the peace pact the MILF has been dealing with government.
Rodriguez said he would also seek the help of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to ensure safety for the arrivals of Misuari and Kato in Congress.
“They represent very active groups in the Bangsamoro. Their proposals to improve the law, their general comments and specific suggestions are (necessary) so we could say we were able to hear all sides,” he added.
The MNLF launched a failed siege in Zamboanga city in September 2013 in an independence bid, claiming that its 1996 peace pact with government was sidelined by the latest peace agreement with its Moro counterpart.
The recently submitted Bangsamoro bill seeks to implement the peace pact signed between government and the MILF, ending its decades of Muslim secessionist movement in the region.
Rodriguez said the committee would meet next week to talk about the committee membership and calendar of hearings.
The bill is targeted to hurdle the committee level by end of November, and to be approved on third reading in the lower chamber by Dec. 17, the solon added.
Meanwhile, the plebiscite, which aims to ratify the bill for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity to replace the ARMM, is targeted on March 2015. Rodriguez said the law will also call for a P700 million budget to fund the plebiscite.
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