MILF position on BBL’s delay

  • Wednesday, Jul 23 2014
  • Written by  Editorial Desk

::July 23-31, 2014::The submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress is slowed down by many intervening obstructions. First, the review of the Office of the President (OP) took sixty one days, to be exact on June 23, before the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) finally received a copy of the BBL bearing the comments of the OP.

(The BBL was formally submitted to the OP last April 22). Second, the four-tiered BTC-OP never took place, except the fourth and highest engagement when President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met in Hiroshima, Japan last June 24. Third, the OP’s comments on the BBL, which is essentially the position pursued by the GPH peace panel, dilutes the BTC’s text and have in many instances  departed from the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes, which is the basis of the crafting of the BBL. Moreover, the OP adopted a very conservative interpretation of the Constitution, which is a radical departure from what the government has been saying --- and promised --- that the flexibility of the Constitution would enable them to implement the FAB and its Annexes. Fourth, many of the delays are caused by issues that were already settled in the FAB and its Annexes but are kept coming back and forth at the instance of the GPH; e.g., ancestral domain to ancestral domains, central to national, Bangsamoro people to Bangsamoro peoples, etc. And fifth, in view of the wide disparity between the two positions of the two parties, finding an agreed version takes some time. “Haste makes waste.”

Like the GPH, the MILF is working on the timeline that the BBL be submitted to Congress immediately after the State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) of the President on July 28. This is the reason that even if we are fasting, the MILF had agreed to resume the discussion in Kuala Lumpur on July 8-11 and the meeting in Manila from July 18-21 even without the presence of the Malaysian facilitator. The MILF is stretching the protocols of the engagement in order to catch up with commitment and come up with agreed version of the BBL.

But the difference lies in the approach. Obviously, the government peace panel line is to let the MILF accept a version of the BBL that may be constitutional but will not solve the Bangsamoro Question. On the other hand, the MILF overall objective is “to end tyranny, restore dignity and secure a bright and prosperous future for all in the Bangsamoro Homeland. The current government proposals will not restore dignity to a people who suffered tyranny and will not secure a peaceful and prosperous future.”

The MILF position on the current discussion of the BBL, which it officially registered during the special meeting in KL and is repeated here, are as follows:

1.      All those issues that are settled in the FAB and its Annexes will not be subject for renegotiation; and
2.      Settled language in the FAB and its Annexes will not be subject for renegotiation.

If both Parties only abide by these commitments, the process would really move forward faster and save them from some irritating moments in their current engagement. More importantly, the MILF will never renegotiate these settled issues. This is the reason that the current status of engagement is no longer negotiation but discussion and the GPH and MILF are not only partners but are engaged in problem-solving mode.
 

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