MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he would certify as urgent the new Bangsmoro Basic Law (BBL) draft, boosting the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people to establish a more independent and powerful homeland.
“I will support and husband this instrument as it goes in the legislation for its consideration,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacanang after receiving a copy of the proposed BBL.
“I am for this --- within the context of the Republic of the Philippines, there shall be a Bangsamoro country.”
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), submitted on Monday its proposed BBL to Duterte, just a week before the President’s second State of the Nation Address, following the opening of the regular session of Congress.
In a chance interview, Duterte said he would certify as urgent the BBL bill so that its passage in Congress will be expedited.
HISTORICAL INJUSTICES, VIOLENT EXTREMISM
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.
“You have been given the unique privilege of correcting the historical injustice through the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” MILF chairperson Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.
“We trust you will shepherd the passage of this law and see through the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.”
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.
Analysts and supporters of the Bangsamoro cause have said the siege laid by Islamist extremists on Marawi City, in a bid to establish an Islamic State caliphate, should give the government and Congress impetus to pass the BBL.
BTC chairman and MILF first vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said the BBL is the “best antidote” to violent extremism in the Philippines.
“The anger of violent extremism feeds into the frustration of our people and take over the narrative of historical injustice so it can justify its virulent ideology,” Jaafar said.
“Because it exploits the narrative of historical injustice, it is important to address legitimate grievance.”
The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014.
The passage of the original version of the BBL during the previous administration was scuttled because of the Mamasapano clash, where 44 elite cops were killed by the MILF and other Moros. It also faced questions on its constitutionality.
This time, Duterte said he will ensure that “there will be no objections [to] the provisions of all that is consistent with the Constitution and the aspiration of the Moro people.”
The government is implementing a peace deal with both the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front. The faction of the MNLF, led by former Sulu governor and representative Yusoph Jikiri, is supportive of the BBL.
However, another MNLF faction, led by founding chair Nur Misuari, wants the government to honor the 1996 final peace agreement, saying it has yet to be fully implemented. That agreement led to the creation of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Duterte has promised Misuari that his grievances would be addressed.
Implementing the BBL would mean abolishing the ARMM, while the 1996 agreement would mean the enhancement of the ARMM.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza earlier said it is up to Congress to reconcile issues concerning the fractious Moro groups.
“This will all be submitted to Congress. Again, Congress cannot pass a law only for the MILF and another separate law for the MNLF. There’s only one Bangsamoro territory,” Dureza said in a news conference last week.
“So, Congress will have to look at both and then find out how they can harmonize, how they can converge both proposals,” he added.
Dureza earlier said Duterte may skip the BBL review and instead send it straight to Congress for deliberations.