Muslims getting restive over Bangsa law delay – group

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A multi-sectoral group of Muslim, Christian and Indigenous Peoples has expressed alarm over the continued delay in the release of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) submitted more than two months ago to Malacañang by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) after the signing of a comprehensive agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

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The Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) said it was high time the draft BBL was released to the public to assure all stakeholders of the sincerity of the government efforts to forge a lasting peace in the South.

“Unhealthy speculations are running high about the fate of the peace roadmap agreed upon by both the government and the [MILF] in a bid to settle over four decades of Moro rebellion in Mindanao,” the MPC said in a statement.

It explained that unhealthy speculations have stemmed from the unavailability to public scrutiny of the BBL.

The statement stressed that the longer such speculations persist, the greater the chance of eroding the public’s trust in the peace process.

“The biggest stakeholders of the peace process are Mindanao’s grassroots communities and peoples who have suffered the most during the long periods of war,” the group added.

“We feel that enough time has passed for a thorough review of the BTC draft; it is also about time to give the public, especially the Bangsamoro constituency, the opportunity to examine the documents,” MPC further said.

The group also urged Malacañang to immediately release its comments on the BTC’s draft basic law before a ‘revised’ draft is submitted to Congress when it resumes session on July 28.

Earlier, MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said every day of delay reduces the BBL’s chances of becoming a law within the year.

“It is important to the Bangsamoro government because a government cannot run without a law,” Jaafar stressed.

He said the Bangsamoro people was getting worried at the delay but ignored speculations that the Aquino administration might not be interested in the peace agreement.

Jaafar also hinted that the delay in passage of the BBL could lead to some sort of violence.

“I am not saying that but the question is what will happen if the approval of the proposed [BBL] is delayed? If the ratification of the proposed [BBL] is delayed, what will the Bangsomoro do? Will the Bangsamoro accept that, if they reject it, what will they do? That I cannot answer for the moment,” Jaafar stressed.

The draft law was submitted by the BTC to Malacanang on April 22.

Its enactment into law would pave the way for the establishment of a new autonomous region in Mindanao to end the decades-old conflict in the South.

Malacañang, through Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, earlier said the draft law would not be forwarded to Congress until the Palace legal team and the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel finishes reviewing it.

Coloma, however, could not say when the review would be completed since it needed a meticulous and thorough evaluation to ensure that it conforms with the Constitution.

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