OUR banner story yesterday “Bangsa law may spark war” made some online comment writers say we were being alarmists.
We were not spreading alarmist fears, we were merely telling the truth.
While the government peace panel chief was assuring the public two days ago that there was no impasse in the peace process, we also had direct statements from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership bitterly denouncing the “betrayal” of the government for making alterations on the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law authored by the MILF-manned Bangsamoro Transition Commission (NTC) created by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Besides, the government chief negotiator herself was the one who told the press that there was a halt in the peace talks because some of the provisions in the MILF-BTC-written draft of the future mini-constitution of the proposed Bangsamoro substate were unconstitutional. Being such–unconstitutional, the government side had to alter those provisions because otherwise they would only be surely rejected by the Philippine Republic’s Congress and by the Supreme Court.
But there’s good news all of a sudden.
The Philippine government and the MILF peace panels have agreed to sit down again. According to the Philippine side, the talks will be for two weeks to thresh out the two sides’ differences and come out with a mutually acceptable draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that would surely be passed. But according to the MILF side the meeting today will only be to further discuss the message President Aquino had given on Thursday.
Apparently, President Aquino had a meeting with the MILF people and the government peace panel and his Cabinet secretary for the peace process on Thursday. From accounts of the meeting reported by government sources, the President spoke to the members of the two sides like a neutral Big Chief addressing the members of both teams with the message that the aim was lasting peace and the realization of the Bangsamoro region or substate. Therefore, he told them that the BBL draft to be presented to Congress must be something that will pass muster and when enacted must not end up being rejected by the Supreme Court because of unconstitutional provisions.
This is wonderful to know. But we can’t help asking why he–and his peace process aides, especially Secretary Deles and Chief Negotiator Coronel–did not make this message very clear to the MILF leaders from the very beginning.
Someone very important from the MILF was absent in that very crucial meeting that happened rather late in the day. The head of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, who is also head of the MILF negotiating panel, Professor Mohaqher Iqbal, did not attend the meeting. He was obviously showing his frustration over the delay in submitting his commission’s draft of the BBL to Congress. Earlier, Prof. Iqbal had complained angrily over the “alterations” made by Malacañang on the BTC-written draft.
We hope and pray something good will come out of these efforts.
We have said in this space before that the big hole in the Aquino administration plan and activities to create peace in Mindanao once and for all is the same flaw that undermined the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s plan.
This is the decision to forge peace with the MILF while ignoring the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was signed by the Philippine government with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996.