‘We will not accept a diluted BBL’ – MILF

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“The amendment not only maintains the status quo, but an outright deprivation of what remains of the wealth in our lands, which have been raped by outsiders.”

by DEE AYROSO
Bulatlat.com

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is urging the House of Representatives and of the Senate to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “in its original form,” saying that it is the version consistent with the agreements between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In separate letters addressed to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon dated July 29, the BTC submitted a resolution which said it “stands firm that the proposed BBL in its original form is the most appropriate version based on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).”

Meanwhile, the MILF in its official website, luwaran.net, was more scathing about the substitute bills pending in the two houses of congress, particularly, House Bill 5811, approved by the congressional ad hoc committee on the BBL, and the committees on appropriations and on ways and means.

“The MILF will not accept a diluted BBL. If a law is based on the report of the ad hoc committee on the BBL, which is 50 percent bad, the MILF will outright reject it,” said the editorial “Critical period,” posted on the MILF official website, luwaran.net.

The BTC is a body created by President Aquino in 2012 through Executive Order 120, and is mandated to draft the BBL, in line with the peace agreements. All its members were appointed by the President, with seven selected by the government panel, and eight by the MILF. The BTC is headed by Mohagher Iqbal, also the MILF chief negotiator in the peace talks.

In Sept. 2014, President Aquino submitted to Congress House Bill 4994 and Senate Bill 2408, which were based on the draft by the BTC.

The CAB was signed by government and the MILF last year, while FAB was signed in 2012.

In its letter to Belmonte and Drilon, the BTC attached a partial list with 28 contentious amendments made by HB 5811. The BTC resolution said the amendments “constitute a clear transgression of the signed agreements,” and defeats the purpose of the treaties, and of the creation of the BTC. The BTC said that their draft BBL had already undergone rigorous consultation with the Bangsamoro people, as well as “engagement with the Office of the President.”

The amendments in HB 5811 changed the framework of the “asymmetric relationship between the central government and the Bangsamoro,” and destroys “the concept of exclusivity of the powers” of the Bangsamoro political entity, as agreed upon in the CAB, the BTC resolution said.

The BTC resolution 005-2015 was signed by its 14 members in Cotabato City on July 29.

‘Diluted’

The MILF luwaran editorial said the redefinition of the asymmetric relationship between the central government and the Bangsamoro has “effectively reduced the Bangsamoro entity into a local government unit.”

“In short, there is no autonomy at all but an entity lower than the ARMM,” it said. “For what reason, the MILF can accept a diluted BBL?”

The MILF editorial said the amended BBL “totally abandoned” the provision on the allocation of income derived from the development and utilization of natural resources, which was 100 percent for the Bangsamoro government for non-metallic; 75-25, in favor of the Bangsamoro for metallic; and 50-50 for Bangsamoro and the central government for fossil fuels such as gas, oil, coal, and uranium.

“Strategic minerals,” as defined in the amended bill, includes natural gas, petroleum, coal and uranium, mineral oils, and all other potential sources of energy, which are under the powers of the national government, under HB 5811.

The editorial said the amendment “not only maintains the status quo, but an outright deprivation of what remains of the wealth in our lands, which have been raped by outsiders.”

The imposition of national laws, such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and the Labor Code, also “destroys the essence of autonomy,” the editorial said. It also stressed that the provisions on the Shariah and other justice systems in the Bangsamoro should be retained.

The MILF decried the “utter disregard or lack of understanding of the context of the various provisions in the BBL.”

At the House of Representatives, interpellation for HB 5811 was stalled this week after the plenary session lacked quorum for two consecutive days.

Progressive group Suara Bangsamoro had criticized HB 5811 as a “Malacañang BBL,” saying its provisions still deny the right to self-determination of the Moro people.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the committee on local government, is set to submit his draft substitute bill for plenary debates in the senate next week. Marcos’s version reportedly have 115 “minor and major” amendments to SB 2408, with the removal of “unconstitutional” provisions. ()

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