Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chairman and chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the Philippine government will be answerable to the international community, if Congress fails to pass “a good Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).”
Speaking at a recent forum, Iqbal said: “Ninety-nine percent of the international community is supporting the passage of a good BBL. If the MILF does not accept the BBL, the government will have to answer to the international community.”
The forum, “Peace at last?” was organized by the Moro Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) and the Pilgrims for Peace, held at the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City. It was a rare occasion that Iqbal appeared in a discussion with progressives after the 2012 signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).
Iqbal said the international community has “a deep involvement” in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GPH) and the MILF in the past 17 years.
“The international community would take the government to task if war breaks out,” Iqbal said. “We will have the moral ascendancy if the exit agreement is not signed…We will blame and shame the GPH for not complying with agreements signed by both parties.”
The exit agreement is the final document to be signed by the two parties, and to be validated by the third party monitoring team, lead by former European Commission envoy to the Philippines Alistair McDonald.
The BBL bills – House Bill 5811 and Senate Bill 2408 – are yet to be approved by Congress.
The MILF had said that they will not accept a BBL based on HB 5811, which they described as “50 percent bad” and “lower than the ARMM,” the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The ARMM was the result of the government’s peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The BBL will be the law to govern the Bangsamoro political entity to be established, as provided by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the MILF in 2014.
“Very clear, we will not accept it, if it’s lower than ARMM,” Iqbal answered at the forum, to the question, “What will the MILF do if a diluted BBL is passed?”
The small crowd of progressive leaders and church workers loudly applauded and cheered.
The crowd was apparently critical of the BBL, many of them, of both the original and “diluted” versions. But the cheers were expression of support to the Moro people’s efforts to address the roots of conflict.