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BBL won't end armed conflict

Let’s look for better alternatives to have genuine peace - Cayetano

By Office of the Senate Majority Leader
June 1, 2015

PASAY CITY – Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will not guarantee lasting peace in Mindanao, since it is not inclusive, not even within the Moro Islamic liberation Front itself.

He cited a recent news report published by the Manila Standard claiming that at least 85 top commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denounced the leadership of MILF Chair Ebrahim Murad for forging a “doubtful” peace deal with government and vowed not to support the BBL.

"The bill has not even been enacted into law, yet we hear of Moro commanders eyeing to break away from the MILF. This adds to our fear that even if the BBL is passed, there will be more armed clashes,” the senator said.

With this in mind, the senator stressed that all efforts for peace in Mindanao should no longer be focused on a single group like the MNLF or the MILF.

“We must learn from the lesson of history. Before the BBL, we already had peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), leading to the creation of ARMM. We all expected this to bring peace in the region," Cayetano said. "But soon after, MILF broke away from MNLF due to their disagreements with the signed peace deal. Now that it is MILF’s turn to talk peace, there is a threat of another breakaway group. So how sure are we that the BBL can really create permanent peace in Mindanao?”

Further, Cayetano said he learned from consultations with stakeholders that many Mindanaoans distrust MILF’s intentions in pushing for the BBL. He said both Muslim and Christian leaders in the region are looking for a better measure that will promote the welfare of all groups in Mindanao.

"The BBL is not the answer to Mindanaoans’ problems. What we need is a better solution, a real change for peace, one that takes into account the concerns of all other stakeholders," he said.

One alternative, he suggested, is to pass a bill that seeks to strengthen the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) or have two autonomous regions in the South.

Moreover, he assured the public and stakeholders that senators will not railroad the passage of the BBL, noting that an enacted law should not only be constitutional, but should also address the needs of all Mindanaoans.

"This development should not be disregarded. OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles and chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer should explain what they know about this issue and how this could greatly affect the ongoing peace process. This should serve as a wake-up call for government to learn from the mistakes of the past and not allow history to repeat itself,” Cayetano said.