MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to certify the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as urgent, Malacañang said Thursday, as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continued to bemoan the slow progress of the proposed measure in Congress.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte made the decision during Wednesday’s meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).
The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014. It was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which formally turned over the draft measure to Malacañang last July 17.
A copy of the BBL is now in Congress, but the MILF has expressed frustration that no lawmaker has sponsored the bill. House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said Thursday the BTC-drafted BBL will be filed next week at the lower chamber.
The development during the LEDAC meeting comes as the MILF expressed frustration anew over what it claims was the lack of attention being given by Congress, dominated by Duterte’s allies, to the proposed measure.
In an editorial published last September 16, the MILF lamented that “recent development of the BBL is not encouraging. The government is not pushing it in Congress.”
The MILF also feared that the BBL might be side-lined to give way to shift of system of government from unitary to federal.
“Or it may not come at all during the term of President Duterte because constitutional change, which will surely face fierce resistance from those who are enjoying and benefiting from the highly centralized status quo, is hard to realize. It is not for easy picking,” the MILF said in its editorial piece.
The MILF stressed that it will always hold on to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“[We] continue to respect and abide by them. These agreements, which were signed with third party facilitation, clearly defined our relations with the government and how the various provisions thereof are going to be implemented by the parties,” the MILF said.
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 stop the rise of Islamist extremists in Mindanao.