philstar - Marcos: Peace process best way to keep ISIS out of Philippines

24 March 2016

By Jonathan de Santos | philstar

philstarSen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., a candidate for vice president, on Wednesday said that pursuing the peace process in Mindanao is the best way to keep the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also called the Islamic State, out of the Philippines.

Marcos made the statement after bomb attacks in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.

Among the aims of the peace process is to bring rebel groups back to the mainstream of society and to curb the spread of religious extremism in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.

"The peace process is the key and the logic is really quite simple. Dapat magkaroon tayo ng pagkakaisa sa mga kapatid nating MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) at MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) at iba pang grupo upang sila ay patuloy na kasama sa ating lipunan at para hindi sila sumama sa mga grupo katulad ng ISIS," Marcos said in a press statement.

The military has said that there is no verified presence of ISIS in the Philippines, although it has said that the Maute group, a militant group that security forces clashed with last month may have been trying to get support from the international terrorist group.

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government, has been pushing for passage of a version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that he says is more inclusive than the bill submitted by the Palace and prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

The passage of the bill, which is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the MILF, has stalled in Congress. Critics of the measure have raised questions on the constitutionality of creating a new political territory that is supposed to have more autonomy while remaining part of the Philippines. Passage has also been delayed by long debates, lack of a quorum and public sentiment after the Mamasapano clash in January 2015.

Earlier this month, the Swiss-led Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) recommended passage of the BBL and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro as the most important way to end armed conflict in the southern Philippines.

“It offers an opportunity for the historical and cultural resilience of the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples to be recognized as a vibrant and constructive part of the Philippines, based on the acknowledgement of plural identities. This is indeed a historical opportunity for the Bangsamoro and that this is indeed a historical opportunity for the Philippines,” the group said.

According to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the TJRC is mandated by the CAB to study and make recommendations "with a view to promote healing and reconciliation among the conflict-affected communities in the Bangsamoro."

The TJRC conducted consultations "with more than 210 Moro, indigenous, and settler communities in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, involving some 3,000 community members and local officials," OPAPP said.