Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ferrer asks Filipinos to engage lawmakers on BBL immediate passage

The government’s chief peace negotiator appealed to Filipinos to support passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by exhausting all means to make lawmakers attend Congress’ plenary sessions so that deliberations could finish before Congress takes its Christmas recess.

“We hope that you will help us contact all legislators and tell them to go to the plenary floor and finish the interpellations on this proposed legislation. Use whatever means you have such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email blasts, texts or phone calls to urge your representatives,” Ferrer addressed a crowd composed of local media, students, and professors in a roundtable discussion on the BBL in Iloilo City Friday, December 4.

‎Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal emphasized that "the BBL is not an ordinary piece of legislation. This is based on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which are peace accords signed by the government and the MILF."

“The BBL is expected to bring structural reforms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to rectify the flaws in the current autonomous region and to bring an end to the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao,” Ferrer said.

The government chief peace negotiator underscored the important role that every Filipino can do for the progress of the Mindanao peace process, especially in curbing the misinformation campaign against the BBL by anti-Muslim groups.

“As of now, we are still in the period of interpellations [on the BBL] in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Then there will be the period of amendments. Part of this delay is caused by the prejudices (against Muslims) and false information on the proposed law. We need you to help us correct the misinformation on the BBL,” Ferrer said in the event convened by Mindanews and the ‎Philippine Information Agency with support of The Asia Foundation and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas.

Despite the odds, Ferrer said she remained positive that both chambers of Congress will be able to finish the plenary interpellations and pass the BBL before it goes on Christmas recess because of the commitment of the congressional leadership and key congressional blocs in supporting efforts by the Executive Branch in putting in place solutions to Moro issues, including weaknesses that hinder true autonomy in the existing ARMM.

“We hope the BBL will be passed and this will not be a missed opportunity. We don’t want our country to become the land of missed opportunities.”

“We are not giving up yet to this fight for peace in Mindanao as we are almost there in ending the armed conflict between the government and the MILF,” Ferrer concluded.
Iqbal noted that there is still hope on the part of the MILF to get the BBL passed. "We continue to put our trust on the President."

"Ayon nga kay dating MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim, the most civilized and peaceful way of settling the conflict in Mindanao is through peace," Iqbal said.

The BBL is the legal iteration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed in March 27, 2014 to end the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao. (OPAPP)

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