Aquino asks Congress to be considerate on Bangsamoro law

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/29 July) – President Benigno S. Aquino III asked the consideration of Congress for the delay in the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Speaking for one hour and twelve minutes in a televised national address, Aquino cited the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March 27.

The CAB envisions the creation of the Bangsamoro government, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after the passage and ratification of the BBL.

Aquino said the proposed BBL is still being threshed out by both parties.

Earlier, the MILF complained that the proposal drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission was “heavily diluted” by the revisions conducted by the President’s legal team.

“We are asking for the consideration of Congress [that the BBL has yet to be submitted to them]. It is important that we thoroughly examine every provision,” Aquino said.

He assured the government will do everything to put forward a Bangsamoro law that is “just, fair and acceptable to all” hopefully by the end of this year.

Both the government and the MILF target to install the Bangsamoro government in 2016.

MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim noted the submission of the draft BBL by Malacañang to Congress is already delayed, but he still appealed for support for the success of the peace process.

“Despite the recent challenges we are facing in the peace process brought about by the delay in the submission of the drafted BBL to the Philippine Congress after the review and revision introduced by the legal team of the Office of the President, once again we are earnestly calling your continued support to the ongoing GPH-MILF peace process,” Murad said in his Eid’l Fitr message on Monday.

Presently the two peace panels and the Malaysian facilitator as well as the international community are working very hard to find way out to the differences and are seemingly progressing, he said.

Murad stated clearly the stance of the MILF.

“We will not accept any derogation to the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro], the CAB and its annexes both in the BBL and the implementation process as these documents are finished agreements and cannot be renegotiated, otherwise we will be repeating the whole process,” he said.

“For those critics of the agreements we call upon them not to negatively pre-judge the accord, give chance for its completion and ultimately their implementation, be constructive and be not spoilers of peace,” Murad said.

Commenting on Aquino’s SONA, Ishak Mastura, ARMM-Regional Board of Investments managing head, said “the President evinces determination to deliver the Bangsamoro [government] but also evoked some uncertainty due to the tight timeline for it.”