The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has given assurances that the Bangsamoro region that will be established to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will not secede from the Philippine republic.
“There will be no state within a state. The Philippine state will remain sovereign,” MILF Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said when he appeared at the House of Representatives.
The House Ad Hoc panel on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) held its first hearing on Wednesday.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd submitted the BBL draft to Congress on September 10 and urged the House of Representatives and the Senate to give priority to the measure that embodies the peace pact forged between the government and the MILF. The measure will establish the Bangsamoro Region, which will be granted full autonomy and self-governance.
“Let me warn you of people who would want to sow fear instead of hope in your hearts and the Filipino people. Their aim is to stop the establishment of the Bangsamoro. They will take advantage of the deeply held biases and prejudices of the people. But instead of dismemberment, the Bangsamoro will further unite our peoples.
There will be no state within a state. The Philippine state will remain sovereign,” Iqbal said.
“The Bangsamoro is the sum of our hopes and dreams. It may mean nothing to you, but it is the whole world to us. It is what we only have.
We implore you then to step lightly on these dreams when you discuss the draft law. Do not trample [on]them [dreams]. We only ask that we be allowed to govern ourselves,” he added.
Iqbal said the passage of the BBL will allow their people to purse their dreams in an environment that fosters prosperity and abundance, finally ending their long struggle against poverty, fear and insecurity during war times.
“To all these, we say, be not afraid. To all the Filipino people, be not afraid. This is my request and appeal to the honorable men and women of this House. It is my prayer that you choose hope over fear.
Let us break free from this endless cycle of poverty and insecurity,” the MILF leader said.