MANILA – Senator Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday that under his substitute bill, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) will have a role in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), a body that will govern the proposed Bangsamoro region during its transition period.
In a statement, Marcos said the MNLF ''had been totally left out in the ongoing peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF)."
According to Marcos, Senate Bill (SB) 2894, the substitute bill for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), addresses the concerns of several sectors and stakeholders that the Palace and MILF-backed BBL was not inclusive.
He said Section 196 of Article 15 of the substitute fixes this.
"The MNLF was not given any participation under the original BBL version, that's why I included them in the BTA in my substitute bill. In fact, in the public hearings which I had conducted, I had invited them and all the other stakeholders because I consider them as partners in this endeavor of finally bringing peace to Mindanao," said Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government which tackles the BBL.
Marcos said under his bill, the BTA will be composed of 60 members, including all the incumbent members of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Legislative Assembly, and those who will be appointed by the President from the women sector, settler communities, non-Moro inhabitants, other essential stakeholders, and the MNLF.
However, Marcos said the MILF, being the principal party to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), shall enjoy preference in the appointment to the BTA, both in its leadership and membership.
Once the BBL is signed into law, thus formally creating the Bangsamoro region, the BTA shall be established as an interim government until the May 2016 elections.
The government peace panel has said that while it held talks with MILF, the previous peace agreements were taken into consideration in the creation of the FAB, CAB, and draft BBL.
The MILF is a breakaway faction of the MNLF founded by Hashim Salamat in the 1970s. The Nur Misuari-led MNLF split after it entered into a peace accord with the government and produced what is now called the Tripoli Agreement of 1976.
The MILF also does not recognize the 1996 final peace agreement that the MNLF entered into with the government.
When the Aquino government started talking peace with the MILF in 2011 and later came out with the framework and comprehensive agreements on the Bangsamoro, the MNLF felt left out, saying this abrogated the older peace agreements.