ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/18 January) — Government chief negotiator in peace talks with Moro rebels pitched anew for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to help the county counter rising threats of terrorism in Southeast Asia.
The BBL is expected to top the priorities of the House of Representatives and the Senate when they resume session Monday, based on earlier pronouncements of their respective leaderships last month.
GPH peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, a political scientist, said the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed in March 2014, and the draft BBL not only fulfill social justice objectives but “are also containment measures against jihadist extremism” when viewed from the global security perspective.
The BBL seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a political entity with broader powers to address the decades-long aspiration of the Moro people for meaningful self-rule over their ancestral homeland.
The Moro struggle has led to a four-decade long separatist war that has claimed the lives of at least 120,000 people and pushed back progress in the Bangsamoro areas, in turn, breeding social and political discontent among the local population.
The establishment of the Bangsamoro entity is a key measure to implement the CAB that will signal the start of decommissioning of the MILF’s combatants and their firearms, and its transition from an armed revolutionary movement to a political force that pursues its aspirations through democratic processes like elections.
In a statement, Ferrer said the creation of the Bangsamoro will strengthen efforts to end the armed conflict in Mindanao as well as “stem the tide of extremism” in this part of the region.
There has been renewed concern over terrorism in the region following the Jan. 14 attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia for which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility. The attacks left seven people dead, five of which were the assailants, and 23 injured.
Last November, Ferrer and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal issued a joint call on legislators to have the BBL enacted soonest to help create an environment that denies the growth of extremism in Bangsamoro communities.
“I reiterate our appeal to our legislators… in view of the recent violence in Indonesia, which is so much closer to home,” Ferrer said.
In previous Congressional hearings on the BBL, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said passing the measure “can help in curbing the spread of extremism in Mindanao.”
“In particular, the Bangsamoro government would be able to help moderate Islamic leaders to counter the ideology of radicalism being promoted by ISIS and steer the Muslim community away from ISIS influence,” Garcia pointed out.
Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said last week the success of the Bangsamoro peace process will be a showcase of how “an Islamic movement can address its grievances and pursue its interests through a legitimate mode of democratic political engagement while still remaining within the country’s territorial integrity and constitutional framework, and without losing their culture and identity.” (Ryan D. Rosauro/MindaNews)