Friday, January 16, 2015

BBL should not be viewed as perfect law: GPH and MILF Chief Negotiators

BBL should not be viewed as perfect law: GPH and MILF Chief Negotiators
In a forum organized in Davao City by Mindanews last Thursday, January 8, Prof. Miriam Coronel- Ferrer, Chairman of the Government of the Philippines Peace panel and Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace panel both said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will entrench the new political entity called Bangsamoro should not be viewed as a “perfect law”.

“The law when enacted will not solve all the problems besetting the proposed region, they said”.  

Chairman Iqbal said in a roundtable discussion on BBL that the bill is only one element that will help achieve lasting peace in Mindanao adding that it requires good governance and leadership and good implementation of the law to make groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Abu Sayyaf irrelevant.

On the other hand, Chairman Ferrer said “it would be unfair to pin all hopes on the BBL since there are other factors to consider, for example, how to deal with the splintered Moro National Liberation Front”.
She commended both the House of Representatives and the Senate for having held several consultations on the BBL.

Iqbal, also the chair the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), said they are hoping for a “resounding endorsement” of the BBL, citing their “trust in the collective wisdom to pass the BBL.”  Similar statement by Chairman Iqbal was repeatedly said in his previous statements on BBL.

“Let us not waste the opportunity to establish peace in Mindanao,” he said as he appealed to media to push Congress to do its job. He added that media, for sure, is interested in stories other than war.

Both panels are expecting Congress to pass the BBL within the quarter to achieve the timetable of having the Bangsamoro government set up by 2016.

On unity in the Bangsamoro, Ferrer said that would be the task of the regional government.
For his part, Iqbal said they “hope for the best” in reaching out to their constituents.

Ferrer said the feats achieved by the peace process in 2014 reflected the trust and confidence that was built, reciprocated and sustained through the years of negotiations.

“We want that trust and confidence should be stronger as we move along…and ensure that all the elements of the comprehensive agreement will be put in place,” she added, citing that such trust and confidence showed in the statements and actions of both panels in different aspects of the agreement.

On decommissioning, Ferrer noted that the MILF decommissioning process has been hampered by the lack of guidelines.

Iqbal said the decommissioning process would follow the Irish Republican Army model, that is, MILF weapons will not be surrendered but merely deposited to a third party. He added the pace of the process will depend on the progress of implementation of political reforms and other terms of the peace agreement.
The Embassy of Canada, BTC, Conciliation Resources, European Union and Philippine Information Agency supported the conduct of the forum.