THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government peace panel had finally accepted the bitter truth that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will not be passed under the Aquino administration.
MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal said their optimism that Congress will pass the BBL “has long been buried and dead.”
“Don’t ask anymore, we are just hoping,” Iqbal told reporters at the sideline of the launch of the “Journey to the Bangsamoro,” a three-volume publication outlining various historical phases in the GPH-MILF peace process in Makati City.
“My only concern is that the BBL is still pending in Congress. Chances are high that it will not pass at all,” Iqbal said. “Signs are already pointing to that direction. There is lack of quorum in the House and I think, if it will not be passed these three days, I don’t think it will be passed at all,” he added.
Iqbal said the peace panels are still hopeful that Congress will eventually pass the controversial measure.
“What remains in the MILF in general and the peace panel, in particular, is the hope that finally it will pass Congress,” he said.
Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the head of the government peace panel, admitted that the fate of the BBL lies in the hands of lawmakers.
“The period is too tight already. So I can say we don’t have any assurance that it will be completed, though we still have some hopes,” Ferrer said.
She added that the panel will continue to push the enactment of he measure.
“It is really sad to think, because we really want that what we pass on to the next administration is a solution, not a problem,” she told reporters.
The Bangsamoro bill was stuck at the House of Representatives because the chamber could not muster a quorum.
If the BBL is not passed, Iqbal said that the peace process will continue but the decommissioning of the armed component of the rebel group will not proceed.
“On the part of the MILF I don’t see any serious danger. Of course there would be frustration on the rank and file but the MILF has the command and control over its members. But frustration is a toxic thing,” he said.
Iqbal said Congress will be held responsible if the Bangsamoro bill is not passed.
“We will continue to look for the peace settlement of the conflict in Mindanao and kukulitin namin ang gobyerno na hindi sila nag comply (we will badger the government for its failure to comply).It’s their obligation, it’s the internal obligation on the part of the government,” Iqbal said.
Ferrer said the publication of “Journey to the Bangsamoro,” highlights the so-called “gains of the peace process.”
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE