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MILF asks bets: Where do you stand on BBL?

/ 01:55 AM December 07, 2015

ILOILO CITY—The chief peace negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has challenged the presidential candidates in next year’s elections to categorically declare where they stand on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as the chance of enacting the measure this year grows dimmer.

“There has to be very clear policy statements from the candidates for President. They must say something very concrete and very definitive about the problem in Mindanao,” Mohagher Iqbal, also the chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, told reporters here on the sidelines of a discussion on the BBL.

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While he said the MILF remained neutral and did not support any candidate, Iqbal said the presidential aspirants should be clear about their policies in relation to the search for peace in Mindanao.

“It’s a national issue. The resolution of the conflict [in Mindanao] should be given [primary] consideration,” Iqbal said, citing the continuing drain in resources and the loss of lives due to the decades-long conflict.

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The BBL provides for the creation of a new autonomous political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Passage of the law would implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine government and the MILF that was signed on March 27, 2014, with the aim of addressing the sociopolitical and economic roots of the armed conflict in Mindanao.

But the passage of the BBL has been delayed in both houses of Congress. Legislators opposed to provisions of the bill, especially on the degree of autonomy to be granted the new political entity, had filed alternative bills.

With limited time before the May 2016 elections, Iqbal said it was possible the law would not be passed before the end of President Aquino’s term in June next year.

Deliberations on the BBL in both chambers are still in the interpolation stage and have not entered into the period of amendments, he pointed out.

If the BBL is not passed, the peace process will continue but the decommissioning (of the armed component of the rebel group) will not proceed, Iqbal said.

He said Congress would be responsible if the law is not passed but stressed that the MILF still trusted President Aquino.

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“I hope the President and the executive branch play their role effectively [in pushing for the bill’s passage],” Iqbal said.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, Elections 2016, MILF, Nation, news
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