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MILF firm on demand, wants wider Muslim autonomy 

COTABATO CITY – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF said it will not back down from its original demand to have a wider autonomy for minority Muslims in southern Philippines as it rejected anew any government offer other than an expanded territory, not even the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM.

 
The MILF signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014 and has been pushing for the approval and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL and other provisions stipulated in the accord -Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, including the establishment of the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.
 
The BBL was rejected by Congress during President Benigno Aquino’s administration after some of its proposed laws violated the Constitution. The MILF said it will not revisit the BBL and insisted on the original draft submitted to Aquino.
 
Many politicians and residents in the proposed Bangsamoro areas also rejected the BBL and wanted out of the deal, citing various reasons and the failure of the Aquino government and peace negotiators from both sides to include recommendations submitted by the provinces in the autonomous region.
 
The BBL was drafted by the 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission appointed by the MILF and the Aquino government.
 
If ratified, it will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro region that would replace the ARMM which is composed of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, including the cities of Lamitan and Marawi. The creation of Bangsamoro autonomous region would have to be decided on a referendum in the ARMM and in areas where there are large Muslim communities.
 
Let SC Decides on Unconstitutional Provisions
 
“The position of MILF is very clear. First, MILF will never accept an autonomy that is lower than the ARMM; secondly, the MILF will not accept an autonomy that is equal to the ARMM. The MILF only accepts an autonomy law that is better than the ARMM,” said MILF Vice Chairman Mohagher Iqbal.
 
Iqbal also suggested the BBL should be passed as it is and let the Supreme Court decides on its unconstitutional infirmities. “Yung BBL ngayon kung ako lang ang masusunod ang maganda diyan ipasa na nila ng walang bawas at walang dagdag. Hayaan nalang natin ang Supreme Court maghusga kung alin dyan ang unconstitutional,” he said. “And then kung maghusga ang Supreme Court, ipunin na lang natin yun dahil meron pang function ang BTC mag-propose to amend the constitution.”
 
He said the government offered the ARMM thrice to the MILF and three times it was rejected by the rebel group. He said: “Congress may opt to pass all the constitutional provisions and for Congress to amend the Constitution to accommodate unconstitutional substances on the proposed Moro law, and then later it will incorporate to the working of committee which will draft the federal system of the country.”
 
Provisions
 
According to the BBL, the purpose of the law is to establish a political entity, provide for its basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Muslim people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance.
 
In the draft law, the following areas shall be included in new political entity – the towns of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte and all villages in the towns of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap which voted in the 2001 plebiscite. And also included are the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, and contiguous areas where 10% of residents may petition for its inclusion into the new Bangsamoro territory.
 
And under its General Principles and Policies, it stipulates “in the exercise of its right to self-determination and self-governance, the Bangsamoro is free to pursue its political, economic, social, and cultural development; the Bangsamoro Government shall be parliamentary. Its political system is democratic, allowing its people to freely participate in the political processes within its territory; the Bangsamoro Government, consistent and suitable to its parliamentary form of government, shall adopt an electoral system which shall allow democratic participation, encourage formation of genuinely principled political parties, and ensure accountability.”
 
It further said that: “Governance in the Bangsamoro is the responsibility of the duly elected civilian government. Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Bangsamoro Government shall promote unity, peace, justice, and goodwill among all peoples, as well as encourages a just and peaceful settlement of disputes. The Bangsamoro abides by the principle that the country renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”
 
“The Bangsamoro shall adhere to the principle of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. The Bangsamoro shall establish a government that ensures that every citizen in the Bangsamoro is provided the basic necessities and equal opportunities in life. Social Justice shall be promoted in all phases of development and facets of life within the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro Government shall respect and adhere to all international treaties and agreements which benefited the Bangsamoro Government.”
 
President Rodrigo Duterte is also pushing for the approval of the BBL which he signed last month. (Mindanao Examiner)
 
 
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