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MILF fears more ‘diluted’ provisions in draft BBL

Rebel group however warns against too much dilution of BBL
By: - Correspondent / @kmanlupigINQ
/ 03:54 AM June 05, 2015
ghadzali jaafar

MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar: Seeing dilutions RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday expressed fears that the draft charter for a Bangsamoro substate had been diluted in the Senate and the House of Representatives, but said it would await the final product from the lawmakers before taking action.

Ghazali Jaafar, vice chair for political affairs of the MILF, said its Central Committee was respecting the legislative process that Malacañang’s proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was undergoing but would “monitor it with vigilance.”

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“We have witnessed dilutions (of the proposed BBL) in the House ad hoc committee. We are afraid that more will either be added or deleted from it and will not be the same as the agreed provisions in the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro),” Jaafar said in a telephone interview with the Inquirer.

Jaafar specifically referred to a privilege speech in the Senate on Wednesday by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate committee on local governments holding hearings on the draft BBL, in which he said the proposed measure had unconstitutional provisions and that he was preparing a substitute bill.

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Marcos referred to a report by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the committee on constitutional amendments, that the draft BBL could not pass questions in the Supreme Court.

Marcos said that in its present form the proposed Bangsamoro charter would not lead to peace in Mindanao but put the country down the “road to perdition.”

Wait and see

“We will wait and see. This is the official stand of the Central Committee. We will wait for the final outcome from the bicameral body,” Jaafar said.

The MILF leadership, he said, will convene again if ever the final output will significantly deviate from the original draft and the previously signed agreements.

“If the MILF cannot accept the output then we will talk again about our next action and decision,” Jaafar said.

“The government should not waste this opportunity to resolve the conflict peacefully because the MILF is fully committed to the process,” Jaafar added.

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It would be very difficult, he said, to jumpstart another peace negotiation if the present process will collapse.

“Some are raising speculations about the Bangsamoro seceding from the entire country. They want a guarantee? The guarantee is to ensure fair treatment to the Moros. The government and the people must make them feel part of the country. If there is justice, good governance and services, I don’t think there will be a reason to separate from the Philippines,” Jaafar said.

Democracy at work

At the weekly Senate news forum on Thursday, Senate President Franklin Drilon repeated an early apprehension that the Malacañang-endorsed BBL would not be passed at the Palace target deadline of June 11, in time for inclusion in President Aquino’s final State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 27.

“That was a desired date to finish it, but this is a democracy. We will work on it,” he said.

The massacre of 44 Special Action Force commandos on Jan. 25 while on a mission to take out three international terrorists in the MILF-controlled Mamasapano in Maguindanao province set back Malacañang’s timetable for the creation of a Bangsamoro substate and planned elections on May 2016 for its parliament.

“No matter what you say, the Mamasapano incident delayed the enactment of this critical piece of legislation that can bring stability, peace and progress to Mindanao,” Drilon said.

“We have always said we will review and make sure the BBL is within the four corners of the Constitution,” he said, adding that he did not think that Marcos’ statement that he could not support the Palace version of the BBL could cause much concern.

Drilon disagreed that the Marcos substitute bill would further delay the passage of the draft BBL, saying it was “more convenient” to present the alternative rather than subjecting the measure to amendments.

“The Senate is a collegial body. No one can dictate (on anyone). The senators are all independent. They have their own assessment of the situation and we will debate on this,” he said.

No ‘Plan B’

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda dismissed Marcos’ contention that the draft BBL would “lead to perdition.”

“We strongly disagree with that. In fact, it is a bill that will rather lead to a genuine and peaceful solution to the situation in Mindanao. It was done in consultation with all the stakeholders,” Lacierda said.

“I think we will leave it with our allies in the Senate to do what is proper. We believe that the Bangsamoro Basic Law, as drafted, is the best course of action,” he said.

On Wednesday, Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said the administration had no “Plan B” should Congress fail to pass the draft BBL, pointing out that Aquino’s term ends next year and “a new set of actors will come in.”

“We have to deliver what we have to deliver in this administration,” Deles told reporters on Wednesday. “My work is to do things under this administration. That is what this government is taking on.”–With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Nikko Dizon in Manila

 

Originally posted as of 6:37 PM | Thursday, June 4, 2015

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TAGS: Bangsamoro autonomy, Bangsamoro Basic Law, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ghadzali Jaafar, Legislation, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, News, peace process, Philippine Congress, Philippine Government, Senate
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