ILOILO CITY: The local Muslim community in this southern city are all praises for the peace agreement signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim on Thursday in Metro Manila.
Sammy Hagimanan, spokesman for the Iloilo City Muslim community, also on Thursday said the more than 3,000 Muslims peacefully living here are not directly involved in the disagreement between the two Muslim political factions, the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by Chairman Nur Misuari.
“We are living in peace and doing legitimate business in Iloilo City. We are happy for the peace agreement and strongly hope that it will work for the two factions and the Philippine government, as we are all Filipinos,” Hagimanan added.
Abdul Kaer Alonto, a lawyer from the MNLF, was said to have expressed hope and support for the peace agreement.
The agreement, according to Hagimanan, will hopefully end four decades of intense insurgency by secessionist groups that operate mainly in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
In Baguio City, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. also on Thursday urged the Bangsamoro Transition Committee to immediately start earnest discussions with Congress so that the Bangsamoro Basic Law can be immediately passed.
Seeing possibilities before the year ends, Baguilat said the discussions can already start in the House of Representatives and the Senate so that issues can be threshed out even before a draft basic law is forwarded.
Doing so will reduce the time that it will need for the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be passed in Congress, added the lawmaker, who has thrown his full support behind the peace agreement, both as a Filipino and as an indigenous Filipino.
He said is willing to champion the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, believing that the Bangsomoro issue does not affect just Mindanao but all Filipinos for peace will only have lasting gains for all to enjoy.
“People from Luzon and the Visayas have to be involved in the debate. In our case, we can look at the law as a model for the autonomy push in the Cordillera Administrative Region,” Baguilat said.
He added that he would also look at specific issues in the Bangsamoro Basic Law, such as environmental protection and the upholding of rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain.
Baguilat Jr. hopes that the draft bill would be deliberated in Congress as early as May this year and that President Aquino would certify the bill as urgent and include it in his next State of the Nation address in July.