GMA NEWS Online – ‘Encouraging,’ Bongbong says of MILF anti-war statement

By Amita Legaspi | GMA NEWS Online

gmanewsonline_logo Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. welcomed Tuesday the statement of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that ‘war is not an option’ in case Congress fails to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“That is a very encouraging statement from the MILF. It is an important point that helps the people’s confidence in the MILF as partners for peace,” Marcos said in a text message to GMA News Online.

In a press statement on its website, the MILF said that “no matter what happens to the BBL, the pursuit of peace would remain the menu in setting the armed conflict in Mindanao.”

It added that it “never issued any official statement that it will go to war over the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law which is under deliberations in both houses of Congress. War is not an option to the MILF.”

The BBL is the embodiment of the peace negotiations and agreements between the government and MILF. It seeks to create a Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The proposed measure is now being deliberated at the plenary of the House of Representatives while the Senate committee on local government, headed by Marcos, is still tackling it.

Marcos is set to conduct Tuesday, June 9, its last hearing on the BBL before he starts writing the substitute bill that he will submit to the Senate plenary.

He earlier said that he cannot support the Malacanang-backed BBL as it is riddled with flaws and could only cause more trouble for the entire country.

The senator, in a press statement, said the hearing will focus on the controversial issues of taxation as well as the control and management of natural resources in Bangsamoro territory, specifically Lake Lanao; and the implications of the proposed law on business, and trade, finance, health and women issues.

He said he will discuss the concerns raised over the provision in the draft BBL on the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro over inland waters, specifically the 350-square kilometer Lake Lanao that lies between Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.

According to official data, the six hydroelectric dams built on the lake’s outlet, Agus River, produces 680 megawatts, estimated to supply more than 60 percent of the energy requirement of entire Mindanao area.

Marcos said that aside from possible conflict with the Constitution, the provision giving the Bangsamoro jurisdiction over the major energy source of Mindanao has serious security as well as business implications.

The senator said he hopes hear from business leaders in the country on their views on the implications of the establishment of a Bangsamoro autonomous government on business and trade, finance and economy not only of Mindanao but of the entire country as well.

Marcos earlier said there was an apparent dearth of study on the economic impacts of BBL.

Among those invited are representatives from BIR, the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic Development Authority, Commission on Audit, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and Mindanao Development Authority.

To represent the private business sector are the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Philippine Industries, Inc.

Also invited to the hearing are representatives from the Department of Health and from the women’s sector, like the Women and Gender Institute, and the Philippine Commission on Women.

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