The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on at least 70 percent of the contents of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Malacañang said on Saturday.
The two sides will conclude today their 10-day marathon negotiations aimed at ironing out kinks in the draft law that will be the basis for the putting up of a Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the two panels have finished discussions on “more or less” 70 percent of the provisions of the BBL. Negotiators will tackle next thorny issues that has delayed the submission of the draft law to Congress.
The government and MILF panels went back to the drawing board on August 1 to review the draft and thresh out disagreements since the MILF has complained that Malacañang lawyers had heavily revised the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.
The draft bill on the BBL is the fruit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was signed by the government and MILF in April. The CAB includes annexes on transitional modalities, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.
“The panels said that more or less, they are 70 percent [done discussing issues].
The hard issues are the ones that they’re saving for last, and hopefully, we’ll be able to thresh out those remaining issues,” Valte said in a radio interview.
“If you ask us, failure should not be on the horizon. This is not for the President personally but it’s for our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro,” she added.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Congress is primed for the BBL deliberations so that the measure can be passed by the end of the year.
“They should be transmitting it to us this month. For instance, we have sent legislators to Spain to study regional governments. We have been priming ourselves for this, but there is nothing we can do until we receive the Bangsamoro bill,” Belmonte said.
He noted though that Congress will not sacrifice the “quality” of the BBL even if lawmakers are determined to speed up passage of the measure.
“We will try to do it as expeditiously as we can, but if it cannot be done, we will not force it. But as of now, it [December] is still the target,” Belmonte said.
The Bangsamoro region will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) headed by Gov. Mujiv Hataman.
This developed as MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal denied accusing President Benigno Aquino 3rd of reneging on a promise that the government will be flexible in applying the Constitution on the BBL law.
In a statement sent to The Manila Times, the BTC Communication Group headed by Abdullah “Dong” Cusain said Iqbal was surprised by the report that quoted him as saying that the President broke his promise to be flexible.
“I have never said those words, nor will I ever say that about the President,” Iqbal said. Cusain quoted Iqbal as saying that he is “fully aware that making false accusations do not have any place in this process.”
Cusain said Iqbal reiterated his position that “peace is the only option right now” and that they are doing everything to realize it.
He said Iqbal appealed to “friends in the media to be more mindful of the reports being published…to be faithful to the truth and serve as a source of hope in this difficult time.” As to the progress of the ongoing negotiations between the government and MILF panels, Cusain said he is not privy to the proceedings and that the two panels may issue an official statement.
“Maybe tomorrow both panels will divulge what they have discussed so far,” he said.
With JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL