PEACETALK: You have been given the unique privilege of correcting that historical injustice by entrenching the Bangsamoro

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(Message of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front  on the occasion of the submission of the BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacanang Palace on 17 July 2017)

Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh, Very Good Evening:

At the outset, allow me to thank the leadership and the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission for completing its task of drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Let me congratulate all of you for a job well done. The composition of the commission, which drew its membership from government, the MNLF, and the MILF demonstrated our ability to rise above our partisan interests and to work for the welfare of our people.

As we submit today the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, we consign to the President the hope and dreams of the Bangsamoro people; As we hand over to your Excellency the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, we put our trust and confidence in the process of government; As we submit to you Mr. President the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, we hold on to the promise of the fulfillment of the covenant we signed three years ago with government.

Today marks the end of our active participation in the shaping of the Basic Law and commences our complete trust in the ability of government to deliver on the promise of peace and development in our homeland. As government takes over the shepherding of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we can only hope that the spirit that inspired us to forge ahead with peace despite all the challenges will animate our partners in government to enact a law that shall embody our people’s dreams and aspirations.

We have gone this far in our journey to peace because we hold on to the belief that together we can better achieve peace and fulfill our mutual commitment to uplift the condition of our people. That partnership has brought us to this stage; That partnership I hope will carry us forward to the establishment to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.

We live in very dangerous times. A couple of years ago, as we watched with agony the systematic dismantling of the first draft of the BBL in Congress, we also observed with growing concern the increasing frustration of our people and the fearful rearing of the ugly head of violent extremism.

Today we watch with utter disgust at the destruction that violent extremism has inflicted on the City of Marawi. These misguided people have filled the vacuum created by our failure to enact the  Basic Law and fed into the frustration of our people.

Even as we speak, fighting and destruction in Marawi continues.

I ask, therefore, that we pause for a minute of silence and say a prayer for the brave men and women who stood against violent extremism, for the civilians who have died and for those who have displaced, for those who have shown courage by saving lives despite putting their lives in danger, and for the hundreds of civilians still trapped in the conflict zone and whose suffering no words can describe. (Pause for Silence).

The danger of violent extremism is that it feeds into the frustration of our people and takes over the narrative of historical injustice so that it can justify its virulent ideology which in reality is never linked to the national aspiration of a people. But because it exploits the narrative of historical injustice, it is important to address legitimate grievances and correct historical injustice so that it will be denied any semblance of legitimacy.

Mr. President, we hear you speak of the need to address historical injustice committed against our people and we marvel at the ease with which you narrate the historical basis of our cause. Today, at a crucial moment in our history, you have been given the unique privilege of correcting that historical injustice by entrenching the Bangsamoro Government-the embodiment of the legitimate aspiration of our people, through the enactment of the this Bangsamoro Basic Law. We trust you. We trust that you will shepherd the passage of this law and see through the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government.

By this document Mr. President, you would have taken the first step in correcting the historical injustice committed against our people and laid the foundation for a more just country. By this joint action, we have co-founded a new Philippines-a new country firmly set on the unshakable foundation of justice and truth, and bequeath upon our succeeding generation a country united but respecting and drawing strength from its diversity.

Finally, let me express on behalf of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people our very sincere appreciation to Secretary Jess Dureza for recommending to the President the certifying of the BBL as urgent Bill during its endorsement to Congress.  We pray to Allah that the President will highly consider such important step which will ultimately hasten the process and ensure that the agreed Road Map in the Peace Process will be met, inshaAllah.

Thank you very much and may peace be with you all.

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