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GPH, MILF peace panel chairs remain hopeful with BBL passage

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 05:16 AM Sat Oct 24, 2015
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Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes/PNA
GPH peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal.

MANILA -- The peace panel chairs of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) remain optimistic with the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) when the Congress resumes sessions in November. There is still hope. However, this matter depends on the senators and congressmen. They should let national interest rule over them, rather than personal or group interest,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said in Filipino through a phone interview at the Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan” at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bldg. in Quezon City on Friday. The proposed BBL is for everyone, for the unity of this country,” Iqbal added.Similarly, GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, who was one of the forum guests, still possesses a positive mindset with the BBL’s passage even with only eight months remaining in President Benigno Aquino III’s term. Even in the last two minutes, we should still continue to catch up,” said Ferrer as she compared the passage of the proposed BBL to the madness of the last two minutes of a basketball game.She noted that if the bill is not enacted, everything will be back to zero” and efforts will be wasted.Ferrer said that the period of interpellation should end first, and amendments should be introduced before it reaches the Senate-House of Representatives bicameral conference for reconciliation.Furthermore, the Congress should approve the bill before a plebiscite could be held by the Commission on Elections(Comelec). Hopefully, everything will take place by December,” Ferrer said.The Senate and the House have set Dec. 16 as the new deadline for the passage of the proposed BBL.If enacted, BBL would establish a proposed new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region which would have greater powers and resources compared to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).The salient features of the bill include the structure of government which is parliamentary and an annual block grant which would reach PhP27 billion in 2016.

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