• MILF open to BBL amendments – Iqbal

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    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is open to changes to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as long as the amendments will improve the measure, according to MILF Chairperson Mohaqher Iqbal.

    “Our position has been very clear: We want Congress to support the draft BBL faithful to the letter of the framework agreement. But the MILF welcomes any changes, if it will improve or enhance the BBL,” Iqbal said during the resumption of the Congressional discussions on the proposed BBL by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro.

    Iqbal made the stance in light of the position espoused in the hearing by the Sultanate of Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Maguindanao, among others, that the Sultanate be allotted reserved seats in the Bangsamoro government, which will be established under the Bangsamoro Region.

    The proposed BBL, which will establish the Bangsamoro Region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, gives extensive, exclusive and concurrent powers to the Bangsamoro government and limits the central government’s power to defense and external security; foreign policy; coinage and monetary policy; postal service; citizenship and naturalization; immigration; customs and tariff; common market and global trade and intellectual property rights.

    The proposed law also includes provisions on transitional modalities, power and wealth sharing.

    Miriam Coronel Ferrer, chairperson of the government peace panel with the MILF, gave assurances that the measure provides for the creation of democratic institutions that would reach broad segments of the populace.

    Ferrer said the Sultanate, just like the MILF and other Muslim groups, will be free to join the elections for the members of the Bangsamoro parliament.

    “We encourage the Sultanate and the rest of the field to look for their strategic positions in the long term by joining the elections for the parliament. We encourage them to explore such options, just like the MILF which already formed a political party, so that they will be represented beyond the transition period [after the Bangsamoro measure is signed into law],” Ferrer said.

    “The social standing of the Sultans does not need to be legislated. Their power to settle rido and conflicts on waters, among other resources, is long established and practiced. Their social standing will continue under the Bangsamoro government,” Ferrer said.

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