‘BBL non-passage, a black mark’

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MANILA, June 10, 2015 -– The non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will not be good news for the international community.

This was how former Constitutional Commission member and former Comelec Chair Christian Monsod summed up his thoughts on the possibility that both Houses of Congress fail to pass the said bill.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles gives a speech during the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacañang, March 28, 2014. (Photo: OPAPP)

This was his statement during the recently-concluded Tapatan sa Aristocrat held on June 8 at The Aristocrat in Manila. He noted that the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was witnessed by representatives of the international community.

‘Menu for unity’

“Even members of the International Monitoring Team come from various countries such as Turkey, Norway and Japan among others,” Monsod said.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Negotiator Mohager Iqbal, meanwhile, admitted the “[BBL] is battered from all sides.” However, he added it is “not yet dead”, giving credit to President Benigno Aquino III and other pro-BBL camps for their perseverance.

He underscored the need to pass the BBL because it is “a menu for unity of this country and an antidote of secession.” He explained people will seriously consider secession if they are “deprived, opprsessd and persecuted.”

“Any armed group, especially the new ones will have no valid reason to fight the government,” Iqbal said. These groups will not succeed because the people will not support them anymore, Iqbal added.

Furthermore, hel said the BBL’s passage will promote peace and security, progress and development, not only in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao, but in the entire country. He is optimistic money used to buy weapons and ammunition will be used to build roads, irrigation, clinics, and other needs.

He also looks forward to the MILF’s becoming part of mainstream society and a reliable and effective partner of the government in nation-building and defense.

Anti-government activities

However, Iqbal said should the BBL fail to pass, the MILF would eventually weaken and those espousing radical agenda will become stronger because they have proven the MILF wrong in pursuing the path of peace.

According to him, the BBL’s non-passage would result in widespread frustration that may generate new anti-government activities. Iqbal said the MILF will remain faithful to what it has stood for, pursuing the path of peace. However, Iqbal said “there is a possibility that local and foreign radical groups will make Mindanao their safe havens.”

Atty. Monsod said the two-decade old 1987 Constitution has already provided for the establishment of two autonomous regions.

“However, the BBL is much better than the ARMM because the BBL was a product of both the government and the Bangsamoro,” he explained.

Indigenous People’s rights

While looking forward to the BBL’s passage, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, OMI still sees the Constitution as a beacon of guidance for the BBL.

“Everything should be within the framework of the countyr’s Constitution,” the prelate said in an earlier CBCP News report.

Jennevive Cornelio, a Teduray from North Cotabato, said they fear the provisions of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act would not be incorporated in the BBL which will eventually cause their separation from their ancestral lands.

She also said the government’s negotiations have been limited to people with arms referring to the MILF. She claimed the indigenous communities are disadvantaged by such statements because they bear no arms. (Melo M. Acuña/CBCPNews)

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