From the Manila Standard Today (Aug 4): New group formed amid Bangsamoro uncertainty
A NEW Muslim group has been formed in Mindanao in an attempt to solve the problems in the region in light of the uncertainty over the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The “Bangsamoro National Transformation Council,” led by Datu Andong, an unarmed group, was created to promote peace in Mindanao in the face of the obstacles besetting the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Andong says the BNTC is talking to people in the remote villages in various parts of Mindanao, particularly in the areas beset by conflict, to achieve genuine and lasting peace.
Andong made his statement even as Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the head of the Senate’s local government committee, said Congress might need to move the target deadline for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is still being reviewed by Malacañang.
In his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address on Monday last week, President Benigno Aquino III appealed to Congress to understand the delay in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and promised to push for a law that is just, fair and acceptable to all.
Aquino asked Congress to pass the BBL by the end of 2014 when he gave the same address last year.
Drilon has said the Senate will immediately work on the proposed law that will create a new autonomous government in Mindanao.
“We cannot afford to fail as far as the Bangsamoro Basic Law is concerned,” Drilon said.
“We must have something in place so that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will provide stability and improvements in the economic life of the region.”
Andong says he is seeking the support of the military in his group’s effort to promote peace and understanding.
The military welcomed his initiative.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is open to coordination and collaboration with the BNTC’s effort to attain peace through non-violent actions,” Army spokesman Major Gen. Sonny Tutaan said.
“We can achieve just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao without resorting to violence.”
Andong serves as the development management officer of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development, an administrative arm created by the government during the implementation of the Tripoli Agreement, an agreement entered into between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front and which was signed on Dec. 23, 1976.
He says the BNTC represents the majority of the inhabitants in Mindanao who are calling for a total transformation in the region.
“People don’t have to resort to armed struggle or promote violence,” Andong said.
“We have discuss things to solve our problems and to attain peace.”
Andong discussed the aborted implementation of the 1996 final peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front and the rise of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which triggered fighting with the military and claimed thousands of lives.
“People from different groups, particularly armed elements, must lay down their arms and for a common goal through cooperation,” Andong said.