MANILA – Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he will invite the leadership of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the next Senate hearing to get their opinion on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Marcos made this comment after Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Iyad Bin Amin Madami suggested to consult other stakeholders and armed groups, specifically the MNLF, in the peace process.
”This is something they (OIC) have asked to examine and to look into. So I think this is a good piece of advice. We will follow it and we are trying to get in touch with some of the MNLF leaders if they can attend hearing so that we can hear their side,” Marcos said in a phone-patch interview with Senate media.
Marcos expressed optimism that the MILF officials will cooperate with the Senate and will share their thoughts about the proposed BBL which seeks the creation of the Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said the OIC leader particularly advised the Senate to discuss with MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) about previous peace agreements such as the Tripoli and the Jakarta agreements signed between the Philippines and the MNLF in 1996.
”We will invite the MNLF and I’m sure they will attend and I’m sure there will be good discussion on how the relation of these agreements signed by the MNLF and Comprehensive Agreements on the Bangsamoro signed by the MILF,” Marcos said.
Marcos said former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, being the fugitive, cannot be invited but new MNLF chairman Datu Hadji Abul Khayr Alonto will be asked to attend the BBL hearing.
Marcos said the Senate will also invite Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Sultanates and other stakeholders in the remaining BBL hearings.
The senator, however, clarified that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) will no longer be invited after the group has expressed opposition to the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF.
”They (BIFF) said they will not be part of the peace process because what they are doing is to war with the government to separate from the Philippines and those were non-negotiable points,” Marcos said.
Marcos believes that the MILF leadership would not oppose the suggestion of the OIC chief to include other groups particularly the MNLF in the BBL hearings.
”I think they (MILF) will not oppose because the MILF is also part of the MNLF before. We want to talk to all concerned groups in Mindanao,” Marcos said.
The lawmaker said he intends to conduct two hearings in Mindanao particularly in Zamboana and Jolo and at least two more in Metro Manila before preparing his committee report on the proposed BBL.
He said the constitutionality issues of the BBL which the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will be included in his committee report.
”The local government, being the primary committee, will write all the committee reports including the findings of the peace and reconciliation and the constitutional amendments,” Marcos explained.
Marcos said the suggestion of the OIC to include the MNLF in the BBL discussion would not delay the peace process.
”I don’t know how long it will take but we will not stop. Definitely we can have committee report during the next session period,” Marcos said.
The Senate is set to resume regular session on May 4.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate has to finish the BBL before the second regular session of the 16th Congress ends in June 11 this year.