Reaching for peace: Duterte to receive new BBL draft


Posted at Jul 17 2017 09:41 AM | Updated as of Jul 17 2017 09:32 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with MILF leaders in Davao, May 30, 2017. Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is set to receive a new draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), in an important step to forge peace with the country’s largest Moro rebel group.

The Bangsamoro Transition Committee would submit the BBL to Malacañang at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced last week.

Dureza said he would recommend that Duterte certify the BBL as urgent so its movement in Congress can be expedited.

The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

It will pave the way for creation of a new Bangsamoro region, which will supersede the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The proposed law's passage however was derailed during the previous Aquino administration because of the Mamasapano clash, where some 44 elite cops were killed by lawless elements and some members of the MILF. It also faced questions on its constitutionality.

Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief peace negotiator of the Aquino administration, said backing from the President, lawmakers and civil sectors is vital to the passage of the BBL.

Duterte, she said, should reiterate his support for the law during his State of the Nation Address on July 24.

"The waiting time has been quite long. It's very good that both parties -- the government and the MILF has stayed the course of peace. They have sustained the ceasefire in spite of all the challenges," said Coronel-Ferrer.

"But it's very hard to keep a ceasefire stable if the political process is not moving in step as drawn out in the road map of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro."

A stalled peace process, she added, could lead disgruntled MILF rebels to return to violence.

"The longer it takes, the more the rug will slip away. The MILF will run the risk of losing out frustrated members on the ground or just make the whole process for other people no longer viable.

"You always have that kind of radical alternative hanging and some people just might take that course," warned the University of the Philippines professor.