Photo: Screenshot from ANC Early Edition Facebook page

Passing the BBL is easier than shifting to federalism: Iqbal

“It’s easier really to pass the BBL rather than the shift of the system of government from unitary to federalism,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel during an interview at the Early Edition TV program of ANC on Tuesday (March 20).

Iqbal reiterated the position of the MILF that BBL should be passed first before federalism considering that the Bangsamoro law is a commitment of the government in the signed peace agreement while federalism is not.

In 2014, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which stipulates that the state will deliver the BBL to provide the Bangsamoro people an autonomous political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The said agreement was inked during the stint of President Benigno Aquino III who stated that the ARMM is a failed experiment.

Iqbal further said in the interview that the President Rodrigo Duterte before, during and even after the elections has committed to deliver the BBL and make it as a template for federalism. 

He explained further that federalism is designed to address a national concern while the BBL is designed to address the Bangsamoro problem.

The new BBL which was already submitted to the Philippine Congress was drafted by the 21-man members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) inclusive of representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front, Indigenous Peoples and Christian Settlers.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had already conducted their respective public hearings and consultations for the draft Bangsamoro law in different regions of Mindanao and the island provinces.

During the said gatherings, various peace advocate groups reiterated the need to pass the BBL that adheres to the signed peace accord.

The MILF leadership, which believes that the BBL is constitutional, is confident that the lawmakers will pass a Bangsamoro law that is compliant with the CAB for it is designed to address the Bangsamoro quest for self-determination and current major concerns.

The Front is hopeful for a swift passage of the Bangsamoro law. It had warned that some extremist groups may use the non-passage of the BBL to draw frustrated Moro youth to join them.