MILF Iqbal appeals to lawmakers to pass BBL

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Oct. 7 (PNA) — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday urged Malacanang to certify as urgent the Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).

Iqbal, in a press conference, said he also urged the House leadership to pass the BLBAR by November or December 2015.

“The only window of opportunity is the next deadline, if I may call it as such, which will be in November to December. After that, it is all politics that fill the air,” Iqbal said.

“I appeal to the honorable members of both Chambers of Congress to rise up to the occasion and be statesmen even for one moment in the history of this country. The fate of the BBL is in your hands, and history will judge you on how you dispense with the BBL,” he added.

Earlier, the House leadership said that lawmakers’ “conscience votes” would decide the fate of the proposed BLBAR at the lower chamber.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that the lower chamber may not approve the proposed BLBAR before its December 16 deadline, saying he will not do a campaign to force his colleagues to pass it.

“I’m not going to talk to everybody for you to vote this way, that way, let everybody vote the way he wants to have it voted,” Belmonte said.

He also said that the chamber is running out of time to pass the proposed BLBAR.

The lawmaker said that the long line of lawmakers who want to interpellate has stretched the legislative process for the BLBAR.

The passage of the BLBAR has been delayed by the lack of quorum at the House of Representatives in the past few weeks.

The BLBAR aims to create the new Bangsamoro juridical entity replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

For her part, government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the passage of the proposed BLBAR before the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in November would send a strong message to international community on government’s peace efforts.

Ferrer said the passage of the peace measure would prove that the lower chamber can pass a measure to end decades-long conflict in Mindanao.

“The (passage of the BLBAR) is going to be our message to the APEC community that we will not squander a lost opportunity provided for by the passage of the law that will provide that kind of environment to really jump start peace, security and development in the region,” she said.

According to Ferrer, it would not be a good sign if the Congress fails to pass the peace measure.

“The whole world is watching this process. Kung mangyari ang APEC at ang message na lumalabas sa buong mundo, hindi natin masosolusyon ang kaguluhan natin dito sa Mindanao, that is not going to be a good sign to them who are really pushing for economic integration that is grounded on a very secure society of the Asia Pacific that is able to address different security challenges and economic challenges the world is facing,” she noted.

The APEC is a regional economic forum established to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. This will be attended by 21 world leaders. (PNA)