The thrust of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. to listen to as many concerns as possible and not just to toe the “deadline” of Malacañang for passing the proposed Bangsamoro BasicLaw (BBL) is reaping hefty dividends in terms of enriching his perspective in drafting an “all inclusive” final Senate version of the proposed measure.
This developed as two prominent Muslim groups- the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Sultanate of Sulu- aired their rejection of the BBL during the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Marcos, in Patikul, Sulu last Tuesday (May 13).
“This is the wisdom of reaching out to the people especially those who will be directly or indirectly affected by the BBL. Their testimonies in our public hearings will give me vast information and reference when I write the final BBL version of the Senate,” Marcos said in a statement.
During the hearing, both the MNLF and the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo detested their non-inclusion in the entire peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government of the Philippines (GPH) that resulted in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Framework Agreement.
But more than the complaint of being left out in the peace talk, the MNLF expressed fear that the enactment of the BBL will abrogate the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and the Jakarta Accord of 1996 which it signed with the government.
“That is one of the more complicated problems. It’s a good thing that I sought the opinion of the MNLF so that I will now try to find ways to make the BBL operate within the context of the Tripoli Agreement and the Jakarta Agreement,” he said.
Habib Mujahab, the resource persons for the MNLF, said the framework agreement stipulated the creation of a Bangsamoro entity in the present core provinces of the Autonomojus Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“These areas are covered by the Tripoli agreement in 1976 and the 1996 peace agreement. The MNLF and MILF are representing the same areas. There is, therefore, a conflict of governance and conflict of territories. This is our problem now with the passage of the BBL,” he said during the hearing.
Jolo Bishop Romero Villanueva, director of Justice, Peace Integrity of Creation (JPIC-Jolo) Ministry complained that the BBL autonomy territory that will be created once the BBL is passed has not been agreed upon by the MILF and the MNLF.
The BBL, once passed into law, will create the Bangsamoro political entity to replace the present ARMM, which is composed of five provinces in Mindanao.
“We stand by the Tripoli agreement…By abolishing ARMM, by legal implication, the two previous agreements will also be abolished,” Mujahab said.
The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, on the other hand, wants a separate entity, instead of including them in the core territory of Bangsamoro under the BBL, recognizing the historical prerogatives that have been recognized not only by Spain, United States, and the Philippines.
He said that while the Sultanate is one with the people in finding a way for the lasting peace in Mindanao, it disagrees “with the mode of the MILF,” referring to the BBL.
“We want to hear more from the MNLF and the Sultanate of Sulu that’s why I have scheduled a hearing on May 18 for the MNLF and May 25 for the Sultanate of Sulu,” Marcos said.
Also in the hearing was the youth sector represented by the Tausug Active youth Organization, which requested a reserved seat for the youth in the Bangsamoro parliament.