Running new Bangsamoro gov’t a ‘challenge’: MILF chief

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 29 2018 03:48 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2018 11:55 PM

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao —The leader of the Philippines’ largest Islamic rebel group on Sunday called on his followers to stay united, saying their struggle “does not end” with the signing of a new law carving out a bigger territory for the Bangsamoro.

Chairman Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) proudly raised a signed copy of the Bangsamoro Organic Law before a gathering of some 96,000 supporters here.

But with the MILF soon transitioning from a revolutionary organization, he said it “faces the responsibility of governance.”

The MILF will lead the interim government called Bangsamoro Transition Authority for 3 years until 2022, a task its leader admitted will be a challenge.

“This is one challenge na kailangan alam nating lahat,” Murad told the crowd, noting that most of the rebels have not spent a single day in government.

“But we will be forced because this will be a responsibility that we will have.”

NOT PERFECT

The new Bangsamoro law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the weekend implements the 2014 peace agreement hammered out by the MILF with the Aquino administration.

It went under intense scrutiny In Congress, with many legislators raising questions over the constitutionality of certain provisions.

What came out was “not a perfect law for us but certainly it is a good law for us to start with,” said Ghazali Jaafar, who headed the MILF-led committee which drafted the initial Bangsamoro Basic Law.

While Congress removed references to “self-determination” in the new law, the concept figured prominently in Murad’s speech.

“We ask the help of Allah that this law, once accepted by our people, will be an instrument in order to realize the long struggle and the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination and progress,” he said.

SPOILERS

The plebiscite to ratify the new law can also be “very challenging,” said Murad, who warned of possible spoilers.

Cotabato City, for instance, is expected to present a challenge with its mayor saying a plebiscite for the new law would lose if it would be held today.

“A vote for the passage of the BOL is a question of credibility. How credible are the proponents of the BOL in bringing about peace, progress, development to Cotabato City,” Mayor Cynthia Guiani told ABS-CBN News on Saturday.

Cotabato City is being considered to be part of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.