Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the cooperation being shown by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in giving the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) more time to be studied and improved shows how serious the former rebel organization is in attaining peace in Mindanao.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate local government committee that earlier thumbed down the Malacañang version of the draft bill, said the amended measure would be worth the wait.
In his speech during the Asia CEO Forum, he said the Senate will pass a BBL that will adhere to intentions of a peace agreement signed by the Philippine government and the MILF and provisions under the 1987 Constitution.
The senator made the assurance after MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said they are open to changes in provisions of the draft BBL but that the changes should be made in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Murad added that with or without passage of the BBL, the MILF will continue to push for implementation of what had been agreed upon under the CAB.
“This is the best statement I heard from him [Murad] that they will not force the BBL to be passed during this administration. What is important is that the BBL will be passed properly,” Marcos said in an interview at the sidelines of the forum.
The senator, who is expected to report out to the plenary the substitute version of the BBL, said the statement of the MILF chairman is very encouraging and it further shows that the group can really be a partner for peace of the government.
Marcos clarified that he is not saying the BBL will not be passed by this administration but, he said, if Congress needs more time to study and improve the proposed law, it should be given the concession.
“If we can pass it within the proposed time table, then we will do it, but if we see that it needs further study and adjustments, then we should be given the time for that,’ he added.
Marcos noted that the BBL is a very important part of the peace process and it should be accorded importance by all parties.
“We must be very cautious and ensure that if we would propose amendments, they would still be true to the original intent of the CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro] and other related agreements the MILF had signed with the Philippine government,” he earlier said.
The passage of the BBL will pave the way for the establishment of a new Bangsamoro political entity, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.