Non-passage of BBL caused ‘widespread frustration’ within MILF – Iqbal

Monday, February 15th, 2016. Filed under: Philippine News
-- President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his message in the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) general assembly Wednesday (February 10) at the grand ballroom of Marriott Hotel in Pasay City. The President commended the group for its dynamic, pro-people and patriotic alliance championing excellence in governance towards genuine local autonomy.(MNS photo)

— President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his message in the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) general assembly Wednesday (February 10) at the grand ballroom of Marriott Hotel in Pasay City. The President commended the group for its dynamic, pro-people and patriotic alliance championing excellence in governance towards genuine local autonomy.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress has caused “widespread frustration” among the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the people of Mindanao, according to Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the MILF.

“[T]here is widespread frustration on the ground by our people and members of the MILF,” Iqbal said during a meeting with government negotiators in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday.

“They accused the government of resorting again to delaying tactic and just managing the conflict in Mindanao,” he added.

The government and MILF peace panels met in Malaysia to discuss their plan of action following Congress’ failure to legislate a law formalizing the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao, the centerpiece of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by both parties in 2014.

“Dangerous situation”

Despite the BBL’s non-passage in Congress and the frustration it caused among MILF members, Iqbal said they will continue to work with the government in addressing “this dangerous situation.”

“[T]he MILF and the government shall jointly find ways and means to address this dangerous situation and avoid actions that may increase the frustrations,” he said.

For her part, government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer assured the public that the CAB remains in place despite the absence of a Bangsamoro law as the peace infrastructures established through the agreement are still intact.

“The CAB remains our most viable road map, the source of the substance of the policies and legislation that we will continue to pursue under the next administration and the 17th Congress,” Ferrer said in her speech.

Non-passage

On Feb. 5, the House of Representatives and Senate adjourned without putting the proposed BBL to a vote for plenary approval.

The current 16th Congress’ failure to pass the proposed BBL means it would have to be re-filed again under the next administration.

Despite the setback in passing the Bangsamoro bill, Iqbal urged all Filipinos to unite to overcome the barriers to achieving peace, justice, and reconciliation.

“Let us end the war, the suffering, the tragedy, and pains of our peoples, of the soldiers and our heroic fighters, of our mothers and sisters, of our children. Let us try to live quiet and peaceful lives,” he said.

Ferrer said the non-passage of the proposed BBL means more work would have to be done to achieve peace.

“We should listen more, engage more. This cause is ours, and so the main burden is ours. We shall prevail if we don’t give up now,” she said.

Aside from officials from the government and MILF peace panels, also present at the Malaysia meeting were European Union Ambassador (EU) Franz Jessen; United Kingdom Representative to the International Contact Group (ICG) Thomas Phipps; Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Chair Mo Bleeker; Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) Chair Mustafa Pulat; and Third-Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) Chair Alistair MacDonald. Malaysia, as third-party facilitator, is continued to be represented by Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

Jessen, who was invited to the meeting as an observer, said the meeting was crucial as it gave the two peace panels an opportunity “to reassess, reschedule, and prepare” for the next phase of the peace process.

“I encourage the Government of the Philippines and the MILF to continue seeking the paths for the implementation of commitments made over the 17 years of negotiations and continue their engagements,” he said.

For his part, Mohamed said the Philippine government and MILF should still find ways to proceed with the peace process even with the upcoming national and local elections.

“Let’s think how we will move forward. We must preserve the gains, we must continue… Changing of government doesn’t mean changing of infrastructure. We may add, but not [subtract],” he said. (MNS)

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