THE impasse over alleged “alterations” in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may trigger a fresh conflict that could leave the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at the losing end if their differences are not immediately settled, a political analyst warned on Thursday.
Ramon Casiple said the two sides should promptly agree on contents of the draft bill to avoid further misunderstanding that may lead to the weakening of the MILF’s position as representatives of Muslims in southern Mindanao.
“The GPH [Government of the Philippines] and MILF have to agree on the concept of autonomy within the constitutional framework,” Casiple told The Manila Times.
He stressed that unless this is done, “both would lose.” But the MILF, he said, stands to lose more.
“The government will face a resurgent Moro rebellion. The MILF would lose more, their credibility and leadership of the Bangsamoro,” Casiple pointed out.
Earlier, chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer admitted that certain provisions in the draft measure may be unconstitutional and that is why members of the government and MILF peace panels are trying to fix these loopholes.
Ferrer said both parties are looking for “alternative solutions” to these questionable provisions so that the draft measure, once submitted to Congress, will stand legal scrutiny.
Ustadz Pendie Colano, the chairman of the Selatan State
Revolutionary Committee (SKSRC) of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), also warned that the delay in the BBL passage may cause more serious problems and put the entire Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in jeopardy.
“This is why we believe that President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] is not really sincere in what he was saying because it’s a kind of divide and rule tactic,” Colano said.
“What will happen if both the MNLF and MILF agreements will collapse? That would mean a serious war between the Bangsamoro forces and the Philippine government,” he added.
Colano said Aquino’s plan to have a Bangsamoro sub-state in place before he steps down in 2016 would not happen “because the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has urged the Philippine government to recognize only one agreement and that is the peace pact with the MNLF signed on September 2, 1996 in Jeddah.”
He noted that the major cause of disagreement between the government and MILF panels could be the surrendering of firearms.
Colano explained that MILF ground commanders are not willing to give up their sophisticated firearms.
“For the Bangsamoro fighters, if they surrender their guns and [ammunition], their lives would have no meaning at all,” he said.
Morohomsar Kidatu Gawil, the former 104th MILF battalion commander who split from the leadership of MILF Chairman Ibrahim Murad and now leads a 30-man group, said he cautioned his comrades not to trust the peace negotiations.
Gawil added that what happened to the MNLF led by Chairman Nur Misuari is now happening with the MILF.
“Sa huli, mawawalan ng silbi ang tunay na layunin ng pangkapayapaang pag-uusap [In the end, the peace talks will prove worthless],” he told The Manila Times.
Gawil noted that Misuari was “isolated” when the government accused him of ordering the attacks in Zamboanga City last year.
“Nawala si Misuari sa eksena dahil gusto ni President Aquino na maipatupad nya ang kanyang hangaring mapadali ang pangkapayapaang pag-uusap sa MILF sa pamumuno ni Murad, pero tingnan mo naman kung ano ang resulta, hindi magawa-gawa ang Bangsamoro Basic Law dahil pagkatapos ng usapin sa pamamagitan ng MNLF-OIC-MILF na pag-uusap lumalabas na hindi naayon sa usaping pangkapayapaan ang ginawang mga hakbang ni President Aquino kung kaya di nya maipilit at maisulong ang kanyang gusto mangyari para sa gagawing Bangsamoro sub-state dahil talagang hindi pwede [Misuari was elbowed out of the scene because Aquino wanted to rush the peace negotiations with the MILF under the leadership of Murad but look at the result, the Bangsamoro Basic Law has been delayed],” he said.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, former ARMM executive secretary and member of the Technical Working Group for the MILF panel, said the problem could have been prevented if the contents of the mutually agreed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro [FAB] that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro [CAB] were simply adopted.
“The government has repeatedly said that it will not sign an agreement that it cannot implement and that both the FAB and CAB are constitutional. And so what is so unconstitutional in just copying the language and provisions of the CAB into the BBL?” Sinarimbo, also a senior adviser on political transitions at the United Nations, noted.
On Thursday, Malacañang said that Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles was having a meeting with other stakeholders in an attempt to break the impasse.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Deles will announce the results of her meeting.
Coloma said the President will meet with MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad at a later date but this is yet to be firmed up.
“We wait when this will happen depending on [the time and date]that would be agreed [on]. We witnessed the fruits of their previous meetings and we expect the same holds true with upcoming ones,” Coloma told reporters.