MNLF SHOULD HAVE ITS OWN ‘BANGSAMORO’
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is hoping the Bangsamoro Basic law (BBL) will sail to approval without a hitch, warning of new hostilities in Mindanao if the historic measure meets doom in Congress or the Supreme Court.
There will be a bloody war if the BBL becomes a “failed dream” of the Bangsamoro people, said Duterte.
The bloody scenario ahead if BBL crashes is one of the reasons why he is pushing a shift in form of governance from unitary to federal, Duterte said. In December, spearheaded the launching in Davao City of the Federal Movement that drew more than 600 participants from all over the country. Duterte said federalism is a surefire cure to the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao.
The BBL is the legal framework of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that would create a new autonomous government for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The historic pact is seen as the answer to the search for lasting peace in Mindanao wracked for decades by the Moro insurgency.
The draft of the BBL is now being fine-combed by Congress. After its approval and holding of a plebiscite, officials of the new autonomous government would be elected in 2016.
If the BBL is not approved by Congress (or dumped by the Supreme Court if its constitutionality is questioned, as also earlier warned by Duterte), the Bangsamoro people would have no face in governance.
This is where trouble would start, according to Duterte.
The MILF or the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) could go to the United Nations (UN) to claim parts of Mindanao, he said.
Duterte hinted that the battle over sovereignty would revive the conflict between the MILF and the MNLF, which had an earlier separate peace pact with the government before the BBL or fire off a new conflict between Muslims and Christians. RMB
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), seen as a final solution to the Mindanao Moro problem, is facing threats.
In March this year, President Benigno Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Ebrahim Al Haj Murad signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that laid down the legal foundations for the creation of a new autonomous Bangsamoro government in Muslim-dominated parts of Mindanao.
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the first Moro rebel group to sign a peace agreement with the government, could still throw a monkey wrench into efforts to find lasting peace in Mindanao by questioning the legality of the BBL before the Supreme Courtm according to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte proposed that the MNLF should also be given its own ‘Bangsamoro government.”
On top of the rivalry between the two groups, the MNLF and MILF control separate areas and Muslim constituencies that have differing customs and traditions.
The MILF is based in Central Mindanao populated by Maguindanaos while the MNLF is based in Western Mindanao, home of the Tausug, Maranaw and other tribes.
The MNLF, once the biggest armed Moro rebel group in Mindanao, still has a fighting force that sporadically engages in firefights with government soldiers and attack villages. It is suspected to have links with Mindanao terrorist groups. Nur Misuari, MNLF chairman, is in hiding over rebellion charges in wake of the 2012 siege of Zamboanga City by MNLF fighters.
The MNLF mellowed down in 1976 on its decades-old violent path to seeking independence for Mindanao after its signing of the Tripoli Agreement, the first peace agreement by the government with a Moro rebel group.
The MNLF does not respect the recently-signed peace agreement, that would give birth to the BBL, between the Philippine government and the MILF, the biggest Moro rebel group in Mindanao today.
Under the BBL, there would be created a Bangsamoro political entity to be led by the MILF.
The MNLF creating trouble could be averted if the Nur Misuari-led group is given its own autonomous Bangsamoro government, according to Duterte.
There has to be a Bangsamoro nation for the MNLF. Otherwise, we are all lost, said Duterte.
Duterte insists there is an existing peace agreement between the MNLF and the government that must be respected. He adds though that he supports the BBL.
The MILF, founded by the late Hashim Salamat, is an offspring of the MNLF, formed in 1977, which pursued its own fight for independence a year after the signing of the Tripoli agreement.
The MNLF asserts the Bangsamoro already has an agreement with the government in the Tripoli Agreement and the GRP-MNLF 1996 Final Peace Agreement and do not recognize the GRP-MILF peace pact.
“If at all we cannot renege on our promise in the Tripoli Agreement, we have to honor that and we have to talk to Misuari,” Duterte said.
Duterte spelled out two routes that Misuari may take to derail the quest for peace in Mindanao.
One, the MNLF could go to the Supreme Court to question the legality of the BBL. This move he said may also be taken by others who see unconstitutionality in the proposed Bangsamoro law.
Two, Misuari may resort anew to violence and honeymoon with the Mindanao terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Do not forget Misuari, said Duterte, adding that the MNLF founder remains a force to reckon with.
He said Congress should move fast to pass the BBL, with its potential constitutional flaws cured, before Misuari and the MNLF and other critics of the BBL run to the High Court to question its constitutionality.
As a Mindanaoan hungry for peace, I hope and I pray it would pass Congress, Duterte said.