Marcos endorses self-styled BBL, hits Malaysia in sponsorship speech
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The Marcos BBL version was widely construed as total turnaround from what was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), chaired by Mohaqher Iqbal and comprised of seven representatives each from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.
Marcos’ BBL sponsorship speech “a country without heroes is a country without soul,” explicitly mentioned of application of constitutional restraint in the crafting of his version of the bill.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on local government, said the panel moved to strike down any provision that is clearly in conflict with (the) letter and spirit of the Philippine Constitution.
Marcos said Senate Bill 2849 would not diminish the Local Government Code, which is the manual of operations of local governments in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory and elsewhere in the country.
Malacañang is still optimistic of a BBL tailored fit to the version which the BTC drafted, according to Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
A diplomatic Iqbal, however, reacted positively and, in tempered tone, described as “progress” the submission by Marcos of his version of BBL for plenary.
“I want to commend Senator Bongbong Marcos for coming out with the committee report. It was signed by 17 senators," Iqbal was quoted in an online news report as saying while at the Senate.
Malacañang remain hopeful that the proposed BBL would be passed in its original form, despite the support of a majority of senators for the Marcos-crafted bill in lieu of the version agreed by the MILF and the government.
Lacierda also retorted on Marcos’ insinuation of lack of consultation with stakeholders in the crafting of the original version of the BBL.
“Even if we had negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the perspective was to make sure that no one would be left behind,” Lacierda was quoted on Thursday in a report by the Philippine Star.
In his BBL sponsorship speech, Marcos questioned the involvement of Malaysia in facilitating the government-MILF talks.
“Many have questioned, as I do, why Malaysia was invited to be the facilitator and moderator of these talks. Malaysia, which stubbornly refuses to recognize our rightful claim to Sabah,” he said.
He said Malaysia had harbored separatists and terrorists against the Filipino people.
“Malaysia is not a disinterested party,” he said, apparently assailing its neutrality in helping push the GPH-MILF peace process forward.
Marcos said Malaysia’s involvement in the peace process raised suspicions on the loyalties of those in the Bangsamoro region.
Former House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapuddin, a Yakan from Basilan, said he left the Senate disappointed after Marcos delivered his BBL sponsorship speech.
Salapuddin has actively been campaigning for public support to the original version of the draft BBL in Basilan with MILF’s imprimatur.
“Imagine, a peace agreement painstakingly negotiated for 17 years by the MILF and the Philippine government, spanning several administrations, revised and substituted by 17 Senators. Eighty percent the BBL was revised and is substituted with the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR),” said Salapuddin.
Salapuddin lamented the absence of a Muslim member of the Senate, who could possibly stand and champion the cause of Mindanao’s Moro people.
Salapuddin, who had also served as governor of the island province, fought government for years, thrice wounded in different encounters with soldiers, while yet figurehead of the Basilan Revolutionary Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front.
Malaysia participated in the government-MILF talks in 2003 on the behest of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arroyo’s request for Malaysia’s help came at the heels of a three-year lull in the talks, as a consequence of the 2000 all out war campaign of former President Joseph Estrada against the MILF.
Besides its facilitation of the peace talks, Malaysia also leads the multinational peacekeeping contingent International Monitoring Team (IMT), which helps oversee the government-MILF ceasefire.
The IMT, which is comprised of soldiers and policemen from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Indonesia, and non-uniformed conflict resolution experts from Japan, Norway and the European Union, has been monitoring the ceasefire since late 2003.
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