MILF recruiting fighters, claims Bongbong

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2015 06:41 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2015 02:41 AM

MANILA - Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. claims the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is recruiting fighters despite its ongoing decommissioning process with the Philippine government.

During the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news conference at the Luneta Hotel on Wednesday, Marcos said he was in Lanao del Norte when he received reports from military officers that the MILF is sending out applications for fighters.

"MILF is sending out applications to people to become fighters with guarantee if you become fighter, pag napasa BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), pulis na kayo. May ibibigay na pera at bigas na bigay ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development)... This is a problem," he said.

"Sako daw may DSWD nakasulat. That's the report. The assistance being given to them is being used to recruit. If they're for peace, why are they recruiting? Those are the kinds of issues," he added.

Marcos wants the substitute bill to make the process for joining the Philippine National Police (PNP) uniform.

"What we're trying to do is make it more in line. To become a policeman you must undergo same training, same schooling, testing and assessment as any other PNP," he said.

Marcos added even the firearms already decommissioned shows the MILF has weapon factories.

"What's the point of decommissioning? If I give you firearms, I give you 100, but am making 400 or buying 400. That's another question you have to address in BBL. You have to remember pag walang baril, walang putukan, walang giyera," he said.

Marcos is now working on a substitute bill for the proposed BBL. He said he intends to file it once Congress opens its third regular session in late July.

Right now, he is working on the decommissioning aspects of the bill, to be followed by the economic aspects and constitutional aspects.

"The most important issues are constitutional issues. All the rest of it will fall by the wayside if constitutional issues are not addressed properly. The problem is if you have 10 lawyers there are 11 opinions."

Marcos has offered a compromise to the controversial opt-in provision which will allow local government units to join the Bangsamoro upon a vote of its registered voters. He wants to limit it to the city and provincial levels.

"I cannot think of a solution as to what will happen to barangay that is non-contiguous that wishes to join. How do you administer that? By plebiscite, let's say Barangay 123 decided to join but 30 kilometers away, what province do they belong to? Where do they collect IRA. Will their PhilHealth cards be effective? Purely practical, there are constitutional considerations to that. How do you define an area if you keep changing the definition?"

The senator also wondered about Malaysia's role as facilitator, noting that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chief Nur Misuari already previously admitted Malaysia funded his operations.

"Nur Misuari said it many times, after Tripoli agreement, Malaysia tumutulong... It's always been a mystery why Malaysia is facilitator. They're not objective third party, they're a party in interest," he said.

The MILF splintered from the MNLF which was the first to pursue Mindanao's secession from the Philippines.

Marcos believes Malaysia inspired some of the aspects of the proposals of the MILF. "The speculation is they've done that to take away focus on Sabah claim."

He cited as an example the similarity of the Bangsamoro's proposed ministerial government to Malaysia's own structure. "Kaya sinasabi madali ipasok sa Malaysia, they'll fit right in... It's Malaysian-inspired in terms of structure, presence of wali, chief minister. That's the structure of provinces in Malaysia."

Marcos believes the Aquino administration made commitments to the MILF beyond its capacity to deliver.

"That's why some of the things we're doing is seen by MILF as betrayal. The problem with that even some provisions that are unconstitutional were signed onto, agreed upon by negotiating panel. That's where we are," he said.

"I bristle at the characterization of being anti-BBL. If I was anti-BBL I would change. The minute it's signed, wala pang isang buwan, struck down," he added.

He also noted the ironies in his role as the chairman of the committee reviewing the proposed law: how a non-lawyer like he is defending the Constitution and how he, the son of former President Ferdinand Marcos, is defending the Constitution of long-time political rival, former President Cory Aquino.

Marcos, however, said no one in the administration has asked him to rush the bill.

"They've never said, 'Bilisan mo na.' None of that, in fairness to everyone. The Senate President has spoken to me about BBL but he speaks to me about other bills, the conduct of Senate business," he said.