ILOILO CITY (MindaNews/06 December) — The door has narrowed for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law under the Aquino administration, the head of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel said during the media roundtable discussion at the University of the Philippines Visayas Friday.
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher said the House of Representatives was still in a period of interpellation with only a few session days left.
“If you look at the process, it looks like they can no longer deliver…I’m no longer optimistic,” he added.
Iqbal also lamented that Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has introduced a version of the BBL that removes 80 percent of the provisions, including those on territory, from the original bill submitted to Congress.
MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal airs his dissatisfaction over the delay in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law during the media roundtable discussion on Friday (Dec. 4, 2015) at the University of the Visayas in Iloilo City. MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno
He said he couldn’t understand why Marcos removed “territory” from the bill when this is mentioned 85 times in Republic Act 9054, the law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“We rejected ARMM three times…We can’t accept something similar to or less than ARMM,” he said.
In August, MILF chair Al Haj Ebrahim Murad said the Senate version violated the peace agreement by reducing the Bangsamoso into a province or a local government unit.
Iqbal further noted that in the Senate, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has said he intended to pose more questions to Marcos concerning the latter’s substitute bill called the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal and Dr. Crispino Saclauso of UP Visayas share some thoughts during the media roundtable discussion on the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Iloilo City on Friday (Dec. 4, 2015). MindaNews photo by H. Marcos C. Mordeno
He said the passage of the BBL is a unilateral obligation of the Philippine government under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. “If it’s not passed, sisingilin namin ang gobyerno (we will make the government answer for it).”
Iqbal said the Moro people might get frustrated if Congress failed to pass an acceptable BBL, meaning a version of the law that hews close to the terms of the peace agreement.
“But the MILF is working hard to manage this frustration,” he assured.
Asked to comment on allegations the MILF would use government funds in another bid for secession, Iqbal replied: “If we secede, it’s not because of the bounty but because of frustration and deprivation.”
He cited the cases of Quebec in Canada and Scotland in the United Kingdom which voted to remain with their mother countries even if they were given the choice to opt out through a plebiscite.
He said these territories voted “no” to independence because they have been treated well by their governments.
Iqbal said the MILF will move to the democratic struggle, that is, compete in elections after the passage of the BBL. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)