AQUINO SUBMITS BANGSAMORO LAW TO CONGRESS

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

 The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said peace is dawning in Mindanao as President Benigno Aquino on September 10 submitted to Congress leaders the proposed law creating a new autonomous government in Mindanao.

 This is the main antidote to radicalization in Mindanao, said MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Iqbal was among those present when Aquino handed over the proposed bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in a ceremony held in Malacanang.

The Bangsamoro bill is the legal framework for the final peace agreement signed by the government and MILF in March this year after 17 years of negotiations aiming to end four decades of war in Mindanao.

Iqbal said he is confident the creation of a new autonomous government would be enough to curtail radicalization in Mindanao.

Under the BBL, a new  Bangsamoro juridical entity would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

I assure you that the Bangsamoro Basic Law was crafted to be fair, just, and acceptable to all, whether they are Moros, Lumads, or Christians, Aquino said at the ceremony attended by about 200 guests.

Aquino said he was  optimistic the Bangsamoro would be created within his term.

Iqbal said he is confident the creation of a new autonomous government would be enough to curtail radicalization in Mindanao.

The submission of the BBL comes amid reports that the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been recruiting Mindanao Muslims for training in the Middle East.

ISIS has thrown large parts of Iraq and Syria into violent chaos by instigating a religious was in a bid to establish a separate  Islamic caliphate in the two countries.

Authorities feared that the young Mindanao Muslim recruits would end up as jihadists to return to Mindanao to sow violence in part due to frustration over the delayed approval of the BBL.  

     The next stage for BBL would be its deliberation in Congress, which has created an ad hoc committee to fast-track its approval.

Belmonte and Drilon earlier said they aim for the passage of the BBL by March 2015.

 

 

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