Peace adviser open to help Senate craft new Bangsamoro bill (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said Tuesday her office was prepared to assist senators in their deliberations on the substitute Bangsamoro bill of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In a statement, Deles said her office welcomes the completion and submission of Marcos’ committee report on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

We expect the substitute bill to undergo rigorous scrutiny and debate by the plenary based on the reservations noted by the other senator signatories to the substitute bill. In this light, we are ready to extend any needed assistance to our lawmakers as they deliberate on the proposed bill to explain and clarify the different provisions and their importance in addressing the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, Deles said.

Deles said she remained hopeful and confident that Congress would pass a meaningful BBL for lasting peace and development in southern Philippines in accordance to the mandate of the Constitution.

On its official website, luwaran.com, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said the BBL must be passed before the 2016 elections to spare it from being a divisive campaign issue.

The MILF said that after nearly two decades of peace negotiations the destination is already in sight.

It is for this reason that lawmakers should set aside politics to give way to solving this problem. More seriously, it should not be used as a divisive campaign issue in the forthcoming national elections in 2016; instead, every candidate should push the BBL to pass before this exercise, the MILF said.

The MILF expressed confidence that the deliberation of the BBL in the Senate would be faster and the law could still be passed before the October deadline.

There is still enough time for it. The only thing adversely affected would be the length of the transition wherein the MILF has to steer the Bangsamoro Transition Authority into the establishment of the regular Bangsamoro Government, the MILF said.

Frankly, we never lost our hope that the BBL can be done within the time of President Benigno Aquino III. This is his commitment and we believe in it. Moreover, our trust on the collective wisdom of Congress to pass a good BBL is very much intact, it added.

The MILF said that Congress was aware that a watered-down bill would not solve the Bangsamoro question.

The MILF, if it accepts this diluted version, would not only be cursed by the people, but it will also lose its legitimacy and moral ascendancy which can lead to its final demise, it said.

Rest assured that our hopefulness is over and above our hopelessness. This is what our religion Islam teaches us: never to lose hope in the midst of adversity, the MILF said.