Experts: BBL will pass with ‘risky’ transition period

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MANILA, May 9, 2015 -– The Moro Islamic Liberation Front may face some difficulties with the projected transition period for the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL), which lasts for a year because it has to solidify its mass base into a political party in preparation for the 2016 elections.

This was the observation of Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI and former ConCom Commissioner Christian Monsod. The latter added the MILF should be trained as managers because they have been trained as warriors.

The lawyer said “time is running out” to pass the BBL because even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the passage of the law and a plebescite will have to happen within 120 days.

Isabela City residents learn more about the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) during a public forum on the Bangsamoro in May 2014. The CAB is the framework for the Bangsamoro Basic Law. (Photo: OPAPP)

“Granted it be passed by June and some constitutional issues be resolved by end July, then a plebescite by October and the transition period of one year will not be there,” Monsod said.

“They need a longer transition period,” Quevedo stressed. He explained due to limited time, the MILF will have to undergo crash courses on management.

Asked if President Aquino’s convincing power would be enough to win over enough legislators to pass the BBL, Monsod said he cannot answer such because it is question of politics within the majority coalition and also in plenary “even the thinking and interest of the opposition to the majority coalition will be there because this is a matter of national consequences.”

“We are hoping and a bit optimistic that they will see the primacy of the peace process in improving the situation in the country,” he further said.

The prelate said he believes lawmakers vehemently opposed to the BBL are a minority.
Asked if the MILF leadership would accept a “watered down” version of the BBL, Quevedo said it will all depend on which part of the bill would be watered down. He said “self determination” provision would be very significant.

Quevedo said the familiar names in Mindanao are organizing themselves into political parties to challenge the MILF in the coming elections provided by the BBL.

“Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu has organized his Bangsamoro Reform Party while the MILF has its own,” he noted.

Former Congresswoman Samira Ali Gutoc Tomawis said the organic act has provisions about a police force but has not been realized. She believes the “Private Armed Groups will be addressed by government in due time. There will come a time to decommission the MILF, the PAGs and other groups.”

The former legislator said she looks forward to the passage of the BBL because a recent march of the Moro National Liberation Front and the MILF in Marawi City shows the two groups’ “united front.” (Melo M. Acuña/CBCPNews)

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