IN PHOTO- Left- MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Right- Von Al Haqq, BIAF Spokesman

Peace Advocates, other stakeholders wary of renewed war if Congress fails to pass an acceptable BBL

The Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity has started deliberating the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with lawmakers agreeing to merge the three (3) versions of Bangsamoro Law filed by three representatives.

The BBL crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) was authored by Speakers Pantaleon Alvarez with more than ninety (90) lawmakers) as co-authors. The MILF for its part is confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will fulfill his commitment made before, and after the 2016 elections to give the Moros, and the Lumads, a Bangsamoro Country through the passage of BBL.

The BBL is now moving in the committee level of the House of Representatives, and set a new timetable. Philippine Daily Inquirer in its December 06, 2017 issue said, The House of Representatives’ committee on local government has targeted the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by June next year, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s pleas for its immediate passage.

However, peace advocates still see the uncertainty of the passage of a CAB-Compliant Bangsamoro law, while some are hoping congress could pass it before they go on recess in June 2018. 

CSO Lobby Group told Luwaran that lawmakers whom they have talked to either committed or non-committal of their support to the bill where some citing the contentious provisions of the proposed law.

A peace advocate in Kabacan, North Cotabato who refused to be named told Luwaran that they are hoping that President Rodrigo Duterte will fulfill his commitment that he will correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people through the passage of BBL. 

Pres. Duterte was quoted once saying, “Ibigay natin yan (Let’s give it to them), referring to the BBL.

While many stakeholders are expecting congress to pass the Bangsamoro Law, others are wary of a renewed war in Mindanao.

Ustadz Wahid Tundok, Base Commander of BIAf-MILF 118th Base Command was quoted saying, “An eruption of violence is a real possibility, but emphasized that he was expressing his personal view.

 “We are only humans, and we have feelings. We will be hurt if the passage of the law will not happen,” said Tundok, 50, who fought for the MILF for three decades until 2014.

Von Al Haqq, Spokesman for the BIAF, the military arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in an interview said, “We are always at the back of the leadership (MILF) on any decision pertaining to the BBL. We will also observe how lawmakers treat the proposed law. Our people on the ground are keenly monitoring the development in congress regarding the BBL”.

The fate of the old BBL frustrated some, and due to that frustrations some few joined the other side. This is what we are apprehensive of’, he added. 

Mr. Tu Alfonso, UNYPAD Vice President for Internal Affairs told Luwaran, “That as a youth group, UNYPAD will observe how congress deals with the BBL. We will continue to push for its passage as any delay or dilution will jeopardize the quest for lasting peace in Mindanao. Once a new conflict arises, it is we, the youth, the women, and the elderly will suffer.”

In a chance interview with Khaled Omar, Senior Officer of the MILF Information Committee told Luwaran, ‘There is hope for the BBL, but no assurance that a law that will come out of the deliberations in congress is acceptable to the Bangsamoro.

At a downtown market in Cotabato City, this writer asked Babo Latipa from Katidtuan who sells vegetables how she foresee the future in Mindanao should congress fail to pass an acceptable BBL. She said, “Datu pakagilek, duwanin su mayaba salaki endu su mga apo ku a manga nawt pan. Galugat kami den pembakwit.” (Its fearsome. Pity those like me, and my little grandchildren. We are tired of evacuating). 

“There should be no delay in the passage of the BBL, as its delay or non-passage might trigger an exodus of disgruntled rebels to the ISIS-Inspired group in Mindanao that could hardly be contained”, a peace worker warned.

Lt. Gen. Car¬l¬ito Galvez Jr., Commander of the Western Min¬danao Com¬mand was once quoted saying that Islamic militants were using the delay in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to exploit the “feel¬ings of hope¬less¬ness and frus¬tra¬tion of Muslims in Mindanao.”