Philippines: Liberation front will not accept change made to basic law

30th Jul 2015
Philippines: Liberation front will not accept change made to basic law

By Yusuf Hatip and Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

ANKARA, Turkey(AA) : With the passing of a law that seals a peace agreement between the Philippines government and its one time largest rebel group stalled, a Turkish monitor says “crucial changes” have been made that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front can’t accept.

The government has changed some parts of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), including the identity and sharing of wealth, which “simply cannot be accepted by the MILF,” Huseyin Oruc — vice president of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation — told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

The law has been stuck in the Philippines Senate since Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. junked the proposal, saying he will propose a substitute.

Marcos is the chairman of a committee tasked to discuss provisions of the proposed law – aimed at bringing an end to 17 years of negotiations and a decades old armed conflict in the south while granting Muslims greater political autonomy

Under the terms of the peace process, it aims to create a Bangsamoro political entity in the Philippines south that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told GMA News on Monday that he intends to meet with all the senators individually, in the hope that the law can be enacted while President Benigno Aquino III remains president.

“When Congress resumes session, we are going to talk to them individually,” Iqbal told reporters.

“There is no other way to do except really to pass the BBL. It has been long overdue and this should be the time to do it because the two agreements—FAB [Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro] and CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro]—were signed during the time of Aquino and then the BBL was drafted during his time,” he said.

Having already run for two terms, Aquino III is barred from standing in the May 9, 2016 election.

On Wednesday, Oruc highlighted to Anadolu Agency the importance of the ratification of the law, underlining that “the 2016 general elections would play a major part in how the process continues and who will be the next President.”

Oruc is one of two international NGO members on the independent Third-Party Monitoring Team monitoring the peace process, and is currently in Philippines to attend the 14th term of meetings.

The monitoring team was set up by the government and MILF to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement, as provided for in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed 15 Oct. 2012.

On March 27, 2014, the government and the MILF signed a peace deal — named the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro — that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in the southern area of while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.

Mindanao is the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines.

[Photo: Students are giving extra lesson in the orphanage. Turkish foundation houses children on Mindanao after decades of clashes between Philippines government and Muslims leave thousands parentless. Photographer: Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency]

 

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