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MILF peace panel member calls for non-binding referendum on Bangsamoro

/ 10:47 AM February 25, 2016

COTABATO CITY– A member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panel has reiterated his call for a non-binding referendum to put pressure on the next administration to take serious steps at resolving the so-called “Bangsamoro Question.”

Lawyer Datu Michael Mastura, who was a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, challenged Moro groups – including the Maguindanao and Sulu Sultanates – to initiate what he described as a non-binding referendum to assert a Mindanao agenda for the Bangsamoro in the administration of the next President to be elected in May 2016.

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Mastura also made a similar pitch during the Town Hall forum sponsored by the Inquirer here on Thursday last week, wherein, he challenged civil society organizations as well as the heirs of the Maguindanao and Sulu Sultanates to initiate the non-binding referendum.

The former Maguindanao lawmaker said a silent campaign for a non-binding referendum has actually gained ground, with a hard push by some members of the Lanao royalties.

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He said the Moro people should assert their right to self-determination in the Bangsamoro or the present areas of autonomy (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).

If all else failed, Mastura said, the Moro people should pursue the self-determination struggle through massive calls for a non-binding referendum.

“Forget about the (Bangsamoro Basic Law), because it is passé; it’s water under the bridge; it’s been archived and is literally (no worthier than a paper) flushed into the toilet,” said Mastura, explaining the meaning of “archived” measures in Congress, when both legislative Chambers fail to pass a bill into law.

In pushing for a non-binding referendum, he cited the one held in Southern Sudan, which was initiated by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/ Movement (SPLA/M) in July 2011, following the Naivasha Agreement of 2005, and another by the Christian Timorese of East Timor, a Portuguese colony, which eventually gained independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Transitional Commission (BTC) has expressed optimism that the next administration will uphold the peace commitment of the government, since the negotiators “represented the government, and not only President Aquino, just as the MILF panelists represented not the MILF leaders, but the Bangsamoro.”

Sinarimbo said one of the fruits of the peace negotiations was the creation of an independent body, the least-known Transitional Justice Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

According to Professor Miriam Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, TJRC is the body tasked to draw up programs to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations. Steps have been taken to operationalize the TJRC’s recommendations, Ferrer said.

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Sinarimbo said the findings of the TJRC as an independent body, should also be made public by the next administration. TJRC is composed of an Irish expert on transitional justice, and two lawyers, one of whom was a Moro.  SFM

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TAGS: Bangsamoro autonomy, Bangsamoro Basic Law, Bangsamoro self-determination, Datu Michael Mastura, Michael Mastura, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Nation, news, non-binding referendum, peace, Peace agreement, peace negotiation, peace process, Philippine Government, self-determination
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