The political grandstanding of some lawmakers is getting in the way of achieving peace in Mindanao, Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said on Saturday, referring to critics of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that seeks to establish a Bangsamoro region.
“Critics are trying to throw a monkey wrench into the Aquino administration’s only shot at bringing peace and prosperity in Mindanao by trying to make it appear that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) cannot be trusted just because its chief peace negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, is using an alias. Detractors are making a mountain out of a molehill,” Barzaga lamented.
He said his colleagues are unjustly making people from Mindanao look bad just because Iqbal used an alias.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles have questioned Iqbal’s use of an alias in signing a peace agreement with the government.
But Barzaga said the issue should not derail the peace process.
“The question is, is this enough to throw away our best chance at achieving peace? What they want really is to derail the peace talks,” he noted.
“They just want airtime and destroy our trust on our fellow Filipinos,” the lawmaker said.
Barzaga opined that Iqbal’s use of an alias has been the focus of public discussions instead of the more important issues like empowering the Moro people to choose their own leaders.
“Nowhere in the BBL does it say that power is granted to the MILF outright. The BBL is about creating conditions for our Moro countrymen to choose their leaders through democratic means…it is about creating conditions for peace and development,” he argued.
Under the proposed BBL, MILF leaders are allowed to seek positions in the Bangsamoro parliament by participating in the elections.
“Those who are against the BBL want us to fixate on the MILF, and this is a myopic approach. The BBL is more than that,” Barzaga pointed out.
“If we allow ourselves to get drowned in the political noise, our countrymen in Muslim Mindanao will continue to suffer. We cannot allow that to happen,” he said.