Gov’t, MILF urged to talk with groups excluded from peace pact
DAVAO CITY — The International Alert urged the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to make use of the remaining time between now and the 17th Congress to talk with groups that “felt excluded” from the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) to strengthen support for the new law in the next Congress.
Judy Gulane, IA communication specialist, said the group welcomed the recent statements from the MILF and the Aquino administration to sustain the peace process despite the 16th Congress’ failure to pass the BBL, urging both sides to take the extra time between now and the next Congress as a chance for more dialogues with people who will be affected by the new law.
“We urge them to take the opportunity to dialogue with groups that felt excluded when the CAB, the basis of the BBL, and the BBL were drafted,” Gulane said in a statement.
“We encourage them to meet with legislators, especially those who opposed the BBL, as they will scrutinize the bill when it is re-filed in the 17th Congress,” Gulane added.
IA, however, said the disappointment over the 16th Congress’ failure to pass the BBL, when mixed with election-related tensions, could likely become a “flashpoint” for conflict to occur.
“Rather than blame the MILF or those who support the law, let us take these as prompt to study the BBL,” Gulane said.
“For truly, for Muslim Filipinos, it represents their best chance for self-determination, and our best chance for a lasting peace in Mindanao,” she said.
Gulane, however, said sustaining the development in Muslim Mindanao during the election campaign and upon the installation of the new Congress has remained a challenge. “With or without the new law, livelihoods must be created,” Gulane said.
IA pointed out that despite the marked entry of big investments under the Aquino administration, economic growth in the ARMM has remained among the country’s slowest while its poverty level has remained the highest.
“In the remaining months in office, the Aquino administration should continue to pour in funds that the region needs, while incoming government must heed the region’s growth requirements,” she said.
But Gulane added that equal burden of development rests on the ARMM’s local leaders and private investors.
“We commend the regional official’s promise to forge ahead with their development plans even without BBL and the town level initiatives to draw investments in their localities,” she said.
“We also commend businesses that have set up shops in the ARMM despite many uncertainties,” she added.
International Alert is a peace advocacy group helping communities find solutions to conflict within countries. SFM
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