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National

Murad: MILF supports Duterte in shift to federalism, but first, pass the BBL

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. (Karl Decena, InterAksyon.com)

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) supports President Rodrigo Duterte's planned shift to federalism, but stresses that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law must be passed ahead of the change in the Philippines' form of government.

This is according to MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, whose prepared speech was delivered by a colleague at the Global Autonomy, Governance, and Federalism Forum 2016 on Wednesday at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

MILF central committee secretary Ahmad Amer delivered Murad's speech, as the latter was attending an Islamic conference of foreign ministers in Uzbekistan.

“The MILF welcome and support his excellency President Rodrigo Duterte in his plan to make the Philippines a federal country,” Murad said.

He said he held on to Duterte's commitment to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed in March 2014; pass the BBL; and use the prospective Bangsamoro government as the template of the Philippine federal state.

Murad added that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process had also submitted a peace roadmap to them, which Duterte approved in July.

According to the Official Gazette, the peace roadmap includes an all-Moro body which will draft “a more inclusive” law to be filed with Congress in lieu of the BBL. Various peace agreements, including the CAB, will also be consolidated, and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission will have more diverse representatives.

“Work on the new proposed Bangsamoro enabling law will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal setup, the latter expected to come later under the planned timeline,” the Official Gazette reported in July.

Murad said that the MILF “clings” to the CAB as the solution to “the centuries-old Bangsamoro problem”.

Any legislation that would discard it or select provisions out of it would be disadvantageous, he stressed.

“Since the Bangsamoro people has a separate identity, historical experience, and narrative from the rest of the Filipinos, the negotiated political settlement that took almost 18 years of long, protracted negotiations must necessarily lead to a unique solution which we simply refer to as the CAB,” Murad said.

He pointed out that the Bangsamoro had consistently asserted and fought for its right to self-determination, even as it experienced “historical injustice... which cannot be said of other regions in the Philippines.”

Murad reflected on the “accelerated” peace process during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, from his meeting with Murad and other members of the MILF central committee in 2011, to the CAB in 2014.

Unfortunately, the Mamasapano debacle “resurrected age-old biases against the Bangsamoro and made the BBL as its biggest casualty,” the MILF chairman said.

In January 2015, 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF), 18 MILF fighters, and five civilians were killed during a firefight as the SAF was in pursuit of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and two cohorts in the Maguindanao municipality.

Still, Ebrahim was optimistic about the fate of the BBL.

“The MILF is very hopeful that under President Duterte, the BBL will pass Congress,” he said.

“With subdued emotions, our legislators can now take a more effective look at the BBL, and realize that the establishment of the Bangsamoro is not only for the good of the Moros, but for the entire Philippines as well. Ending the armed conflict is our biggest incentive in this undertaking,” he explained.

On criticism raised against the constitutionality of the BBL and the CAB, Murad said he would leave the matter to the Supreme Court, as it was “the final interpreter of our laws.”

Should the high court declare any provision unconstitutional, he believed amendments to the Constitution should be worked out through “normal process or be included in proposed charter change for federalism.”

 

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