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GPH-MILF peace panels meet in KL after non-passage of BBL

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 11:55 AM February 10, 2016

MANILA—The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels began on Wednesday a two-day special meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, following the failure of Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the primary legislative measure needed for the conclusion of the long-drawn peace negotiations between the state and Moro rebels.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer last week told reporters that the two panels would meet anew as soon as the “emotions” felt after the non-passage of the BBL is settled.

In his opening statement at the special meeting, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF’s chief negotiator, was straightforward in saying that there is “widespread frustration on the ground by our people and members of the MILF” as result of the failure of government, particularly Congress, to pass the BBL.

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READ: Malaysia not giving up on Mindanao peace process – envoy

“In view of this, the MILF and government shall jointly find ways and means to address this dangerous situation and avoid actions that may increase the frustrations,” Iqbal said.

He emphasized that both the government and the MILF “must provide them hope that there is a chance” that a Bangsamoro law would be passed “whoever the next President would be.”

Iqbal said the BBL must remain compliant with the peace agreement, called the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed between the government and the MILF in 2014.

“This must be in the form of firm and unequivocal commitment from government that it shall continue to comply with its obligations under the CAB, particularly on the passage of the CAB-compliant BBL, which is a unilateral obligation of government,” Iqbal said.

READ: KL not giving up on Mindanao peace

“On the part of the MILF, we assure everyone including the international community that we will adhere to the CAB and comply with its obligations. And finally, in order to preserve the gains of the peace process, government and MILF should journey together in faithfully implementing the CAB, guided by the principle of ‘as is, where is.’ In other words, the most immediate step is either the BBL will be refilled in Congress or a new basic law, faithful to the letter and spirit of the CAB, will be crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which will most likely have new faces as members. This is the only way forward,” Iqbal said.

The proposed BBL is the key legislation that would have created a new autonomous Bangsamoro region, a downgrade from the independent state fought for by the Moro rebels since the 1970s.

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The Bangsamoro autonomous region would take the place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), agreed between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the 1996 peace pact, but which remains mired in poverty and underdevelopment. RAM

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TAGS: ARMM, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro basic law, BBL, GPH-MILF, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, MILF, MNLF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, peace panels
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