MANILA, Dec. 16, 2015 – Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, OMI said the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is “in limbo” and nobody knows what’s happening behind the scenes.
In a recent interview, the prelate said what he knows are indications that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III “is doing something to have the BBL passed as it is his legacy.”
He underscored the need to have the proposed measure passed in its original form and not the emasculated and watered-down versions proposed by Senator Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr. and Congressman Rufus Rodriguez.
“These watered-down versions will be unacceptable to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” said the 76-year-old cardinal.
He added the BBL is the product of 17 to 18 years of negotiations.
Quevedo explained if the BBL that would be passed by both houses of congress would be far from the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the whole peace process will stop as the whole normalization process would stop.
“The normalization process calls for the laying down of arms which would require the MILF to decomission 30% of their weapons and their troops with the passage of the BBL,” he explained.
Cardinal Quevedo forthere sk certain percentage of their weapons and armed elements would also be decomissioned when a plebescite or referendum reveals positive results for the BBL.
“And when the MILF police is organized, all of MILF’s weapons and personnel will be decomissioned and the process will take two years,” Quevedo added.
Asked what version of the BBL would be passed should there be enough time for lawmakers to seriously discuss the details of the proposed measures, he said whether it’s the one authored by Senator Marcos or Congressman Rodriguez, he could not say for sure.
“Both versions are unacceptable to the MILF,” he further said.
He explained both proposed measures would make the Bangsamoro less autonomous than the current ARMM set-up.
“The MILF is also concerned that both the Marcos and Rodriguez versions would lessen the privileges and make them comparable with any local government unit,” explained the prelate.
He concluded even his own sources confirmed the impressions of the MILF leadership.
The Cotabato prelate is a staunch supporter of inter-religious dialogue and served as Secretary-General of the Bangkok-based Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC). (Melo M. Acuña / CBCP News)