BBL a priority bill, Duterte assures MILF

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2017 03:41 PM | Updated as of Sep 05 2017 05:03 PM

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte assured the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) remains a priority of the administration.

The President gave the assurance during a meeting on Monday in Malacañang with MILF leaders, including MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Ghazali Jaafar, and MILF peace implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a news conference.

“The President assured them he considers this high-priority and vital to the future of Mindanao and the nation,” Abella said.

The meeting was held after the MILF scored the government for its supposed “non-compliance” with peace agreements with the rebel group.

In a statement released over the weekend, the MILF noted that no lawmaker has sponsored the BBL in Congress two weeks after it was transmitted by the executive branch to the lower chamber.

It also slammed the government for not listing the BBL as one of the priority legislations of Congress during the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting last August 29.

“Consequently, the MILF will be torn between two unholy situations: partnership with a government that does not fulfill commitments and fighting terrorist groups whose pathways and ideological lines are based on twisted interpretations of Islam,” the MILF said.

“Of course, the right course of action for the MILF is: Hold the government accountable for its non-compliance to agreements and continue the assertion and at the same time continue to defend the MILF as an organization, the people, and fight tooth and nail the spread of terrorism, anarchy, and intrigues.”

The Palace has since said that the BBL will be tackled during the next LEDAC meeting on September 20.

According to Abella, Duterte will also hold a meeting with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to discuss the BBL.

MILF officials are hoping that the BBL will be passed under Duterte, which they say will help correct the historical injustices committed against the Moros.

The MILF also believes that the passage of the BBL and the creation of a more independent Bangsamoro entity will stem the rise of Islamist extremists in Mindanao.

Analysts and supporters of the Bangsamoro cause have said that the siege laid by Islamist State-inspired terrorists on Marawi City, in a bid to establish an Islamic State province in the country, should give the government and Congress more reason to pass the BBL.