MANILA – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a group that signed the 1976 Triple Agreement and the 1996 Peace Accord with Philippine government, is pushing for the immediate legislation of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Ambassador Datu Abdul Khayr D. Alonto, chairman of the MNLF central committee, expressed their support for BBL passage during the Senate public hearing on the constitutionality of the BBL, a piece of legislation that would embody the peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March last year.
”Our proposition is for the immediate legislation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Alonto said as he shared the position of the MNLF to the proposed BBL.
The BBL seeks to create the Bangsamoro political entity which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that was created on Aug. 1, 1989, through Republic Act No. 6734 signed by former President Corazon Aquino.
Alonto said the BBL would serve as a covenant of peace between “two distinct people with two different histories but of the same Malay race, under the same Philippine flag and facing the same destiny.”
”Let us end the war in Mindanao together. This BBL will serve as a covenant of peace between our two peoples, embodying unity in diversity, and sparing our children and our children’s children from the spectre of a fratricidal war of attrition and the fragmentation of this country,” he said.
The MNLF official believed that the BBL is constitutional although he defers to the better knowledge of the legal experts on its constitutionality.
Alonto also said the BBL was anchored on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Philippine government (GPH) and the MILF.
”The CAB is a continuum of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Accord and the 1976 RP-MNLF Triple Agreement,” Alonto said.
Alonto, meanwhile, commended the GPH and the MILF for sincere and courageous efforts that resulted in the signing of the decommissioning agreement last Friday.
”It is now in the hands of the Philippines Congress to bring the agreement to its culmination,” Alonto said.
”In passing the BBL, our history becomes your history and together we can finally write history of the peoples of the Philippines,” he said.
He said the mainstream of the MNLF and the Bangsamoro Army Command Staff Conference of Field Commanders stand in solidarity with the MILF of the immediate passage of the BBL.
Alonto reiterated that a stronger Bangsamoro is the key to the adoption of a federal form of government in the Philippines.
”We strongly move for the legislation of the BBL,” he said.
Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), was also present to defend the BBL along with Justice Adolfo Azcuna, 1986 Constitutional Commission member; and, Dean Julkipli Wadi of University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Islamic Studies.
”The BBL is drafted in consonance with the Constitution and the universally accepted principles of human rights, liberty, justice, democracy and international law,” Iqbal said.
”There is no better way to demonstrate our commitment to peace and development than by giving the Bangsamoro people the opportunity to create a higher and better future for themselves than what they have,” Azcuna, for his part, said.
Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban also submitted position paper as one of those who opposed the BBL which he said requires Constitutional amendments.
”If we truly love peace, then we should all be prepared to pay its price, and to change massively, yes massively, our political, social and government structures and mindsets by amending the Constitution forthrightly,” Panganiban said.
Panganiban also said the people, not only of Mindanao but the whole country should be asked to join a national debate through a nationwide plebiscite.
UP College of Law Dean Merlin Magallona said the BBL does not indicate that it intends to effect constitutional change.
”However, on the whole, it appears to be a deliberate departure from the Constitution,” Magallona said.
Former Deputy House Speaker Pablo Garcia, also a constitutionalist, said the BBL draft was “palpably, incorrigibly” unconstitutional.
He said the Constitution has no provision granting the Senate and the House of Representatives the power to create a new entity like the proposed Bangsamoro political entity.