The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Chairman Nur Misuari yesterday defended its absence at the congressional hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by reiterating its independence from the Philippine government, thus it does not recognize any proceedings on the BBL.
Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman for the MNLF Misuari faction, stressed that the MNLF would only participate in proceedings to be facilitated by the powerful Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
“We don’t recognize the Philippine government, we declared our independence,” Fontanilla told The Tribune.
Fontanilla said that the MNLF is continuously pursuing its independence under the Bangsamoro Republik through peaceful means.
On Wednesday, the House of Representative ad hoc committee on BBL, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, held a public hearing on the BBL being pushed by the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
There were, however, representatives from other factions of the MNLF who attended the hearing, namely, Datu Khayr Alonto and Muslimin Sema.
Alonto has expressed full support to the BBL while Sema branded the proposed law as partial fulfillment of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the government and the MNLF.
During the hearing, Zamboanga City Mayor Isabel Climaco-Salazar expressed opposition to the proposed inclusion of
under the proposed Bangsamoro substate. Zamboanga City
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, who also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), stressed that the MILF is continuously reaching out to all for the passage of the BBL.
Rodriguez called on the Moro groups to coordinate their acts for the smooth passage of the BBL.
At the same time, Rodriguez assured the public that the Congress will pass a BBL compliant within the Constitution.
Relatedly, Fontanilla stressed the MILF’s stance that it is too early to discuss the constitutionality of the BBL at present.
He said the MILF is just aware that the BBL cannot pass congressional scrutiny.
“That is feigning absence of knowledge of reality. They know it will not pass and they are evading the issue,” Fontanilla said.
In a statement over its website earlier, the MILF appealed to the public not to make hasty statements over the constitutionality of the BBL that may spark negative reactions.
The MILF stressed that the constitutionality of the BBL, agreed upon by the MILF and the GPH, falls under the authority of the Supreme Court.
“We therefore appeal to all and sundry especially leaders not to make hasty pronouncements that would agitate negative reactions from the people,” the MILF said.
“The issue of constitutionality of any provision of the BBL is in the domain of the Supreme Court. We are not yet there,” the MILF pointed out.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have noted that some provisions of the BBL could be considered unconstitutional.
Representatives from MNLF factions and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) served as resource persons during the 35th public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on the BBL last January 20 at the Batasan complex. Leaders of the Federation of Sultanates were also present as well as Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) President Amina Rasul.?
Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon asked resource persons from the two Moro fronts on the possibility of “reconciling their differences (on the BBL).”
Biazon reiterated the need for compromise among the diverse Muslim communities, Christian settlers, and Indigenous Peoples in the proposed Bangsamoro territory, as the Congress will pass only one law.
Ad hoc committee chairman Rufus Rodriguez, Representative of the second district of Cagayan de Oro City, mentioned that there is the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The BCF serves as the mechanism for the MNLF and MILF to “coordinate their movements toward achieving the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people towards just and lasting peace, and peaceful resolution of their problems.”
Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong underscored that “reconciliation (in opinions or interests) is a challenge to all of us.”
He meant that even Muslims and Bangsamoro lawmakers in the House of Representatives should also be part of the effort to forge unity among the Bangsamoro groups “to come up with a solid position so the Ad Hoc Committee will not face hardships in passing the BBL.”
Loong, the chair of the Committee of Muslim Affairs, suggested that he will invite the Moro fronts for a discussion on issues on the Bangsamoro bill. Citing optimism that Bangsamoro groups can sit down together, he asked time for the discussion to happen so that the Moro fronts can “come to common ground.”