CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/ 30 July) – Meeting the Moro people’s expectations is the biggest challenge once the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) is ratified and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front becomes part of government, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said during the Consultative Assembly on the law held here on Sunday.
“We will be converting from a revolutionary organization to a governmental structure. We know most of us, maybe not even for a day, didn’t have the chance to work in government. But we will be forced because this will be the responsibility we will have. We will have to form the government. Then after forming the government we have to ensure that the government will work and serve our people,” Murad, addressing followers and supporters during the assembly said.
“If we accept this law, after accepting this law, then we will be conducting a plebiscite. The plebiscite is also very challenging because there are people who don’t want the Bangsamoro to succeed. So they will also try to spoil the plebiscite,” he warned.
“After the plebiscite then we will be establishing the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the transition government that will connect the present situation to the regular government. And this government, Inshallah, will be led by the MILF if we win [in the elections],” he added.
The MILF formed the United Bangsamoro Justice Party in late 2014 in preparation for the 2016 elections. However, the bloody encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015 cost the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and with it the elections for the new autonomous region.
Now called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the new political entity will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which is deemed abolished after the ratification of OLBARMM in a plebiscite in January next year.
‘Still a revolutionary organization’
Murad told his audience the Bangsamoro struggle “does not end in signing the law, it does not end in having a Bangsamoro government. It does not end in implementing the agreement, as it is a continuing struggle wherein everybody has to adhere to the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people.”
“We are still a revolutionary organization. People approach us now to support us as revolutionaries. Once we become the government the reverse will happen. Many will come to us for help because we are now in government. The people will expect us to help them, not them to help us. So this will be reality.
“Many people have come to us and say, ‘we are going to serve the jihad, the struggle’. Perhaps now, many people will also come to us but they will say, ‘we want jobs,’” he said.
He emphasized the need to strengthen unity to prevent internal squabble which he said has happened to other revolutionary organizations after reaching a political agreement with government.
He said majority of the responses to the organic law during the assembly were favorable even if it “lacks 15 percent of the political agreement.”
“Most are inclined to accept it but they’re leaving the final decision to the central committee,” he said.
Mohagher Iqbal, chief of the MILF peace implementing panel, conceded that the law is only “85-percent compliant” with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement signed by government and the MILF in March 2014.
He cited, for instance, that the law doesn’t include provisions on exclusive and concurrent powers, which were contained in the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to Malacanang.
The MILF said the number of people who attended the assembly reached 90,000 but the area where it was held is estimated to accommodate only about 30,000.
President Rodrigo was reported to have signed the law on July 27 but what he signed is not valid as it does not bear the signature of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The legislative process of the Philippine Congress requires that bills transmitted to the President for his approval must be “signed by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and certified by both the Secretary of the Senate and the Secretary General of the House.”
Murad on Sunday showed the crowd in Camp Darapanan a copy of the law that was signed by Duterte but doesn’t bear the signature of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)