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Gov’t, MILF negotiators urge Duterte, Congress to pass BBL

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Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, exchange copies of the peace agreement between the MILF and the Aquino administration that they signed in Malacañang on March 27, 2014. Applauding them are MILF Chair Murad Ebrahim,Malaysian facilitator Abdul Ghafar,Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, President Aquino and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles. LYN RILLON

OZAMIZ CITY — Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace negotiators have urged incoming President Rodrigo Duterte and the leaders of the 17th Congress to prioritize the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) when they assume power on June 30.

Their call was contained in the “Declaration of Continuity of the Partnership of the Government of the Philippines and MILF in the Bangsamoro Peace Process” forged between the peace panels during a two-day special meeting in Kuala Lumpur that endedMonday.

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“The Parties endeavor to urge our country’s next leaders in the Executive and the Legislative branches to affirm the legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro People by working towards the immediate enactment of the BBL,” the Declaration reads.

Submitted for consideration to Congress in September 2014, the BBL failed to pass legislative muster especially in the wake of the highly controversial encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that killed 44 police commandos pursuing the Malaysian terrorist Marwan, 17 MILF guerrillas and five civilians.

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The non-enactment of the BBL has set back the peace clock in Mindanao, especially the process of decommissioning about 12,000 combatants who would have begun the transition to normal civilian lives and participation in the country’s democratic exercises.

In a joint statement issued Monday, the government chief negotiator, Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that the declaration “seeks to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the next administration.”

There was a similar undertaking by the peace panels on June 3, 2010, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was preparing to leave office. However, it was a “Declaration of Continuity for Peace Negotiation” as at that time, the comprehensive agreement was still being worked out. The CAB was inked on March 27, 2014.

“The Parties commit to respect and honor the CAB, and to take steps to fully implement it notwithstanding any changes in the leadership of either Party in the years to come,” the declaration reads.

The peace panels said that the CAB has provided “a clear and reasonable road map” for ending the Moro rebellion and “towards the Bangsamoro people’s exercise of meaningful self-governance as a peaceful, progressive, and productive region in the country.”

“It is a product of the Parties’ joint pursuit for a solution to the Bangsamoro Question, and was concluded in the spirit of honor, justice, and dignity for all concerned,” the declaration added.

In the meantime, the declaration also recognizes the need for the peace mechanisms, like the ceasefire, to “continue to perform their essential functions, keeping in mind that peace must not only be secured through our political processes, but also in the day-to-day lives of the people affected by armed conflict…”

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In their joint statement, Ferrer and Iqbal congratulated Duterte, whose victory was officially proclaimed by Congress Monday. They expressed optimism “the road map provided for in the CAB will be fully accomplished under his term.”

Ferrer and Iqbal also welcomed statements from incoming presidential adviser on the peace process, Jesus Dureza, on the intention of the next government “to continue with the gains and build on those already done and achieved.”

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) expressed hope that peace in Mindanao would be realized under the leadership of Duterte and Vice President-elect Leni Robredo.

“We share in their victory, and we find hope in the leadership that President-elect Duterte and Vice President-elect Robredo will bring to the table,” Hataman said in a statement.

“Together, we look forward to bringing this country closer to a future where lasting peace and genuine justice for all is not just an aspiration but a way of life,” he added.

Hataman said he was convinced that “their leadership translate to further acknowledging the historical injustices committed against the people of Mindanao, to empowering those whose histories are yet to find a place in the national narrative, and to recognizing the rights of the people, including the right to self-determination.”

Hataman said with their “solid track record as local officials,” he was also hoping for more empowered local government units under the new administration.

“Their win, therefore, bears greater significance when placed beside our collective effort towards a national government where regions like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) can expect their peoples’ voices to be heard and where the concerns of those in the regions are part and parcel of the national agenda,” he said.  SFM

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TAGS: ARMM, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro Basic Law, BBL, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamaro, House of Representatives, Jesus Dureza, Legislation, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Mamasapano clash, Mamasapano encounter, Mamasapano massacre, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mujiv Hataman, Nation, news, peace, Peace agreement, peace negotiation, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Congress, Philippine Government, Philippine president, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate
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