By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, May 18 (PNA) – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) central committee believes the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is the best tool to end the 43-year agonizing conflict and eventually attain peace with justice in the Bangsamoro territories.
”The BBL based on the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) is our best chance to attain peace with justice and to build a truly genuine autonomy in the Bangsamoro territories,” MNLF central committee chairman Datu Abul Khayra D. Alonto said in the Senate hearing on the BBL on Monday.
Alonto said the people of Mindanao are tired of war that has claimed 200,000 lives, rendered two million homeless and destitute and forced three million to see refuge in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere for the last 43 years.
”We no longer want to fall prey to the divide-and-rule tactics used on the peoples of Mindanao; we now stand together with the MILF as one, for the immediate passage of the BBL based on the CAB,” Alonto said.
He urged the Congress that instead of utilizing hundreds of millions of pesos to keep the war machines in Mindanao and Sulu, the money should be used for livelihood and education programs to address poverty in the region.
Alonto also called for an end to the colonial policy that the Philippine government inherited from its foreign masters.
”Until you put an end to the colonial policy, then, you shall have before you the continuation of the Mindanao war,” Alonto said.
”The Bangsamoro cause is beyond personalities, politics and families. It is the conviction of the souls of the Bangsamoro people, and the BBL passage addresses the historical and social injustices that gave rise to the Mindanao war,” he added.
He also suggested to finally adopt the federal parliamentary form of government, saying it is the best and only solution to the Bangsamoro conflict.
”A federation can enhance national unity in diversity, strengthen the mechanism of transparency and accountability in good governance, and usher in a truly equitable development, progress and prosperity in the Philippines,” Alonto said.
Alonto said if the Philippine Congress will enact a BBL not based on the CAB signed in March last year, “then we ask you not to waste the money of the Philippine coffer.”
He said the MNLF stands in solidarity with the MILF in the immediate passage of the BBL based on CAB.
During the hearing, former Rep. Gerry Salapuddin called for end of war in Mindanao by passing a not diluted BBL.
”Let us work for peace. Enough for war and the imperial Manila has more to gain if there will be peace in Mindanao,” Salapuddin said.
The Bangsamoro foreign trained cadre officers from western Mindanao also expressed fully support for the passage of the BBL.
”We deeply believe that the approval of the BBL by this august chamber certainly fulfill the longed dreams and aspiration of the Bangsamoro,” the group stated in their position paper.
However, other MNLF faction groups, specifically the group loyal to former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari as well as the MNLF-Islamic Command Council under chairman Habib Mudjahab Hasim, decried the non-consultation of the BBL.
”The MNLF senior leaders are not happy with the BBL,” Edmund Gumbahali, head of the national secretariat of Misuari’s group.
MNLF-ICC group chairman Habib Mudjahab Hashim opposed the passage of the BBL since it would abolish the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and to be replaced by the Bangsamoro government.
”Congress cannot abolish ARMM without amending the Constitution. The abrogation of the ARMM law is the abrogation of the 1976 Tripoli and 1996 Jakarta Agreements between government and MNLF,” Hashim said.
Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, thanked the MNLF leaders for sharing their thoughts on the proposed BBL.
Marcos said his committee will conduct one or two more hearings for the Sultanates and indigenous peoples as well as local executives, particularly in the areas which will be covered by the Bangsamoro political entity.
Marcos said the Senate has to scrutinize carefully the BBL to make sure it will address the root cause of the long decades of war and poverty in Mindanao.
”I cannot understand why we have to rush this important piece of legislation. I’m asking them (the government) why we have to rush it. I think the June 11 is a political deadline,” Marcos said. (PNA)