LEADERS of the two mainstream Moro revolutionary fronts in the Southern Philippines are considering bringing the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before a United Nations body, doubting it would be passed under the present Administration.
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said they see the need for pressure on the government to implement the peace agreements forged with their groups.
The MILF First Vice Chairman, Ghazali Jaafar, however, said renewal of an armed struggle is not an option, even amid the uncertainty of the bill’s passage and the peace process as a whole.
They pledged to pursue their struggle through peaceful means.
Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed grave concern over the BBL fate in Congress.
OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani said the “substantial amendments” to the BBL constitute drastic modification to the original agreement.
“These amendments restore the national government’s control over many areas and they actually reduce the Bangsamoro government to an entity similar to an ordinary local government unit,” he said.
The BBL—a product of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the MILF and the Philippine government on March 27, 2014—“promised to usher in a new era of peace after decades of war, displacement, misery and destitution,” he said.
“This agreement [the CAB]is now being threatened,” he said.
An international bloc of 57-Muslim nations, the OIC is supportive of the peace process in Mindanao, including the passage of the agreed version of the BBL, Madani said.
“We urge the government of the Philippines and the lawmakers to ensure that the BBL, now pending before the parliament, will not come out different from the original BBL,” he added.
Likewise, Madani urged both the MILF and MNLF to consolidate efforts through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and engage stakeholders to close ranks in the peaceful struggle for a common cause.
He also called upon the development agencies of the OIC and other international bodies to continue their rehabilitation and development programs in the region.
The OIC has been rallying leaders of the two Moro revolutionary groups and other Muslim sectors to unite and put an end to the decades-long armed struggle for independence. They have been holding separate meetings locally and abroad with leaders of the two Moro fronts and other stakeholders.
“The preparation for holding a meeting of the Tripartite Review Process on the implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement and the linking and converging of the two previous peace agreements with the Bangsamoro Basic Law is underway,” Madani said.
Meanwhile, the MILF has created a committee to broker the reunification process with the MNLF, from which it broke away.
Last Saturday, Jaafar presided over a meeting in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao with MNLF head Abulkaihr Alonto and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Assemblyman Romeo Sema.
Alonto, chairman of the original MNLF’s “Top 90,” also known as “the Black Shirt,” said he will pursue the settlement of the MNLF internal problems, saying that their organization remains under one umbrella.
The Alonto and Sema MNLF factions are officially supporting the MILF overtures with the government for the passage of the BBL, which seeks to create a Bangsamoro autonomous entity. But the group of MNLF’s founding chairman Nur Misuari is resenting it.
Misuari, who has a pending arrest warrant in connection with the bloody 2013 Zamboanga City siege, failed to send delegates to the meeting but has expressed an interest in the reunification process, Alonto said.