Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bangsamoro draft bill now in Senate, House

From the Business World (Aug 5): Bangsamoro draft bill now in Senate, House

A draft bill of a law that will grant an autonomous homeland for Muslims in Mindanao has been submitted to Congress, pending sponsorship, a Palace official on Friday said.

“…[C]opies of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) draft were already forwarded to the Senate and the House of Representatives…during an event in the Malacañang [involving] the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC),” Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Menardo I. Guevarra said in a chance interview at the sidelines of Bangon Marawi forum.

Mr. Guevarra also confirmed that President Rodrigo R. Duterte met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nurulaji “Nur” P. Misuari where the latter only reiterated that “he will participate, his group, peacefully in the Bangsamoro.” This, despite Mr. Misuari’s earlier statement that he will not join BTC, which is predominantly composed of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which broke away from the MNLF.

Mr. Duterte formally received a draft of the proposed BBL-approved by the 21-member BTC--last July 17 at the Malacañang Palace. With the president were Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez--both Mindanaoan lawmakers.

“The matter now, matter pending is finding the necessary congressional sponsorship,” Mr. Guevarra explained, adding: “It’s now up to Congress to deliberate on that bill.”

Mr. Guevarra said that Mr. Misuari “reiterated the commitment of the MNLF to participate in very peaceful means with the process of self-determination of the Bangsamoro.”

A video uploaded by the Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio Television Malacañang yesterday showed Messrs. Duterte and Misuari sharing hugs and warm smiles. No audio was available for the said clip, however.

Asked if Mr. Musuari was invited by Mr. Duterte, Mr. Guevarra said that he is not sure who extended the invitation.

Détente’s predecessor, President Benigno S.C. Aquino III championed the BBL after receiving its draft in Sept. 2014, but lost support after elite police botched an operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. While the raid in January 2015 did neutralize terrorist elements, it nevertheless claimed 44 police officers, 18 MILF fighters, and five civilians.

Mr. Duterte has earlier promised that he will support the bill as it will “give rise to a genuine autonomous region as well as bring forth healing and reconciliation to the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.”

If the bill is passed, MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal earlier said that it will focus on developing Mindanao’s “agricultural potential” and its mining industry, which can be “mid-term or long-term activities” and will be “co-managed” by national and future Bangsamoro government.

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