Extremists ‘recruiting Moro youth’

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GOVERNMENT peace panel chief Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Monday confirmed that extremists are actively recruiting young Muslims and warned that the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte may face instability unless peace reigned in Mindanao through the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a statement, Ferrer said there should be no conflict with passing the BBL and the next government’s plans of putting up a federal system of government through Charter change since the controversial law may be passed within the year while the country prepares for the transition to federalism, which would be a very lengthy process.

“Set up the Bangsamoro entity and let it exist. If we delay the road map, things might get worse. There are extremist ideologies existing around us recruiting among the Moro youth,” she said.

While Ferrer did not directly mention the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it had been previously reported that the group is slowly gaining support from local Muslim groups.

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“Any further delay with completing the Bangsamoro peace process will work against the stability of the next administration,” she warned, saying that “passing the BBL as soon as possible will help stabilize the situation in the Bangsamoro.”

“It will pave the way for the full-scale decommissioning of the MILF’s [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] weapons and combatants, the delivery of the socio-economic programs, and greatly enhance security cooperation between the government and the MILF,” she added.

According to the peace panel chairman, the partnership between the government and the MILF is essential in fighting crime and terrorism in the region.

Aside from the legislative track of establishing the Bangsamoro, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro also provides a roadmap for the implementation of socio-economic programs for the normalization of conflict-affected areas and the transition of MILF combatants back to civilian lives.

Without the enactment of a CAB-compliant Bangsamoro law, the decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and implementation of the normalization track will not push through.

Ferrer assured the incoming President and his peace lieutenants that the current government panel will turn over a fully functional set of mechanisms charged with overseeing all the different components of the CAB, from the ceasefire to the camps transformation and decommissioning to transitional justice and overall monitoring.

While Duterte openly expressed support for the BBL during the campaign, the presumed next Speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez, said there is no need to pass the BBL since Congress can go straight to the shift to federalism.

But Ferrer explained that any move to change the Charter “requires a lot of study and consultations” and that it will take several years since such a major change is not a mere amendment to the Constitution and is best done through a Constitutional Convention.

The BBL is the enabling law for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity that seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It provides for political and fiscal reforms that will greatly enhance the fiscal and political autonomy of the region.

But the proposed law was not passed by the current Congress before it adjourned in February for the national and local elections.

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