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Philippine Islamists reject BBL

LANAO DEL SUR – Alleged Filipino supporters and sympathizers of the Islamic State or ISIS in southern Philippines have flatly rejected the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL that would replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

An influential Muslim preacher, Jamil Yahya, along with dozens of his followers, also said they will not support the BBL which is part of the peace agreement signed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Aquino government last year.

Yahya said the Shari’ah laws should be fully sourced and implemented based on the teachings and practices of Prophet Mohammad called Sunnah and the interpretations of the Islamic holy Qur’an, and not the provisions in the BBL.

The elderly preacher is reported to have the support of many MILF commanders who are pursuing Muslim independence in Mindanao.

MILF’s spokesperson Von Al Haq denied the reports and said it was meant to discredit and break the BBL to derail the peace process. Al Haq said he had met with MILF field commanders and all expressed their loyalty to the former rebel group, their leaders headed by Murad Ebrahim and the peace process.

Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, a senior MILF leader, said their current “Amerul Mujahideen” is Ebrahim and they will support him whatever the outcome of the peace process.

The MILF has been pushing for the approval and ratification of the BBL and other provisions stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, including the establishment of the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.

According to field members of the MILF in Munai town of Lanao del Norte, two of their “sub-leaders” identified only as Abu Ansari and Abu Arafat had attended a clandestine meeting in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province allegedly called by Yahya, a popular cleric there.

Yahya was originally a member of the MILF’s board of committee based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and left the organization before returning back to the country. Aside from being a member of pro-Osama Bin Laden organizations such as Maradeka and the Bangsamoro Supreme Council of the Ulama, he is also affiliated with a shadowy Filipino-Muslim organization abroad called Bangsamoro Labor Organization.

Last year, Yahya along with masked men identified later as members of the another shadowy group called Khilafah Islamiyah Movement, locally known as Ghuraba, were able to lure some 100 civilians, including women and children, and reportedly pledged their allegiance to ISIS.

The reports on Yahya could not be independently confirmed, although various independent sources claimed the issue on the controversial BBL was the main reason for the disillusionment of many Muslim tribes in the restive South. (Moh Saaduddin)

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