Iqbal on federalism: ‘MILF will neither endorse nor reject it’

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 December) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday said the MILF will neither endorse nor reject proposals for a shift to a federal form of government.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco

MindaNews sought Iqbal’s reaction to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement on several occasions that he prefers federalism to help address the unrest in Mindanao rather than the proposed establishment of the Bangsamoro.

“I respect their view. But the MILF will not endorse it nor reject it,” said Iqbal, who also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

On Monday, Duterte reiterated his call for federalism in the country, saying it could be a more suitable solution to the unrest in Mindanao.

At least 300 participants attended the Mindanao Leaders’ Summit on Federalism here, a move which organizers said was fueled by the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a forum organized by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) in the city on Thursday, a participant asked Iqbal if the BBL is a template for federalism.

Iqbal clarified that the BBL is not a move towards federalism, saying it is an entirely different movement.

“BBL is not a template towards federalism in the Philippines because that would require a major tinkering of the constitution. And I don’t think that is forthcoming,” he told members of CODE-NGO who came from different parts of the country.

He acknowledged that there had been a long history of movement for federalism in the country, in the Bicol region, Cordillera Autonomous Region, Bohol, Negros and even Caraga region in Mindanao.

“For the Bangsamoro people, I think they deserve this kind of movement as far as granting of autonomy because we have a very, very long history of independence.  Besides, we have fought for this for 42 years. So much blood has been spilled because of this one,” the MILF official said.

Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process further explained that the BBL only talks about autonomy in a particular region.

“But I know that many federalism advocates are hoping to use this (BBL) as a stepping stone to turn into a federalist state, but that is still a different level of struggle,”  Deles added.

Becoming a federal state needs charter change, she said.

But she admitted that a positive experience in the Bangsamoro might convince more people to adopt the same system in other regions of the country. “But that will require a different struggle.” (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)

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1 COMMENT

  1. Iqbal and Deles are now like Mr. and Mrs couple. Their statements have become that of partners. Ninong nila Malaysia. If the opposition wins next election, Deles will most likely leave government service and join MILF as its full-time Advocacy Officer.

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