Peace efforts to continue even without BBL passage – Iqbal

The Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Bongbong Marcos, together with the Committees on Peace Unification and Reconcillation; and Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, will contiunue its inquiry on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Also present during the BBL hearing is Senator Chiz Escudero. (MNS photo)

The Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Bongbong Marcos, together with the Committees on Peace Unification and Reconcillation; and Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, will contiunue its inquiry on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Also present during the BBL hearing is Senator Chiz Escudero. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Non-passage of a “good” Bangsamoro Basic Law does not mean Mindanao would relapse into bloody war, said Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“There is life even after non-passage of BBL,” he said, adding that  the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would continue its peace-building efforts.

An article on MILF’s Luwaran.com quoted Iqbal as saying “the MILF has already gained milestones in its political struggle and would not compromise its gains by unnecessarily reverting to armed struggle.”

At a forum organized by the Interreligious Council of the Philippines on September 21 at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila, Iqbal assured the attending religious leaders that the non-passage of the BBL will not result in war.

Also, the Luwaran.com quoted Iqbal as saying that the MILF is already preparing itself for democratic struggle once a “good BBL is passed.”

Wednesday’s forum was convened by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue (CBCP-ECID), National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEP), Focolare, Religions for Peace Philippines and Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.

In his speech at the forum, Iqbal likened the BBL to a “lost traveler.”

“But unlike a lost traveler, those who want to solve the Bangsamoro problem, which is the sole agenda of the [government of the Philippine and MILF [GPH-MILF] peace negotiations since 1997, have at their disposals all the agreements especially the earlier ones signed by the Parties, not only to base their formulations or textual comprehensions, but also to understand the context and frame of mind of the Parties…,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal also said that he is still “tempted to believe that Congress has the collective wisdom to pass a good BBL,” but it has been “hijacked by delays and lack of quorums.”

“I stopped analyzing whether a good BBL is forthcoming or not,” Iqbal frankly told the priests, pastors, ulama, professors and theologians at the forum.

He reiterated the stand of the MILF: It will not accept a watered-down version of the BBL.

On September 10, Iqbal threatened that the decommissioning of the MILF armed forces will not push through if Congress passes a watered-down version of the BBL, saying that it is “unacceptable.”

He clarified that a weakened BBL was not about the number of provisions “deleted, substituted or amended.”

“Just one issue, for instance, the aspect of natural resources, can make the BBL diluted and would force the MILF to reject it.”

Malacañang, however, said that the concerns of all the stakeholders over BBL are being considered, and that it is working to forge one BBL that is acceptable to all.

In mid-August, members of Congress ruled out the possibility of passing the proposed BBL in its original form despite the BTC’s appeal to pass Malacañang’s version.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate committee on local government tackling the Bangsamoro bill, said the Supreme Court will strike down the measure as unconstitutional just like it did the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) if Congress passes it without any changes.

The BBL is the product of the peace agreement signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It seeks to create a Bangsamoro political entity which will replace the ARMM. (MNS)

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