MILF expects Duterte to certify draft BBL as urgent bill

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) –The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) expects President Duterte to certify as urgent bill the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will be submited to him on Monday, to increase its chances of being enacted into law by Congress.

“Less than that would only bring back old memories when the previous BBL was never formally certified as urgent bill by President Aquino,” the MILF said in a statement on Sunday.

The 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) with President Rodrigo Duterte (center) at the launch on 24 February 2017 at the Garden Pavilion of the Waterfront Insular Hotel. TOTO Lozano / Presidential Photo

On Monday, July 17, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) hands over its draft BBL to the President, who in turn, is expected to endorse it to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In a speech before Marawi evacuees in Iligan City on June 20, Mr. Duterte promised to ask Congress to pass the proposed law so that the Bangsamoro region can be established soonest and become a template for the federalization of the whole country.

The current draft is the second produced by the BTC. The first was under the Aquino administration which. The draft was handed over to the 16th Congress in September 2014. Congress adjourned in early 2016 without passing the law.

While crediting Aquino’s push to have the first BBL draft enacted, the MILF said “a formal certification would provide the necessary kick that can set Congress in real motion.”

The MILF leads the 21-member BTC that drafted the proposed charter of a Bangsamoro autonomous entity to replace and have greater powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The group is confident that with the President, House Speaker and Senate President all coming from Mindanao “(where) the problem is,” there is a “greater chance” for the BBL’s enactment into law.

The MILF also said that given Mr. Duterte’s high popularity, he is in a better position to sway the legislators towards positively considering the measure.

The groups has assured that the current BBL draft “is more inclusive both in process and content, because at least one-half of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) is already on board.”

Meanwhile, some 70 leaders from various sectors in Mindanao emphasized that the “earnest push forward” with the Bangsamoro peace process provides “a strong foundation” for rebuilding Marawi City which has been besieged by Islamic State-linked militants since May 23.

The leaders, who were convened by the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) here last week, particularly cited the enactment of the proposed BBL as signifying seriousness in implementing government’s peace agreements with Moro revolutionary groups.

That, in turn, serves as a counterpoint to the arguments of Islamic militants against the Bangsamoro peace process, the conference participants said.

The MILF has said that “there is no logical way forward except the way of peace – and for government to comply for what it had committed.”

“The longer the conflict protracts, the better chance for the violent extremists like the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups to recruit and strengthen, because they feast on our failures.” (Ryan D. Rosauro / MindaNews)

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