MILF chair hopes for BBL passage to prevent extremism

Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Philippines’ Islamist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), strongly hopes that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed to avoid the rise of extremism in the southern region.

In a press conference on Thursday, January 25, Ebrahim recalled that the cancellation of the 1996 peace agreement resulted to the resurgence of the armed uprising of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Expressing high optimism that the BTC version of the BBL would thrive in Congress, Ebrahim remarked that getting the support of the Bangsamoro people further increases the chances of its passage.

“The only solution to this ay makuha natin ang (is to get the) majority of the people, a political solution that is accepted and supported by the people,” he said.

According to Ebrahim, this is the first time that majority of their people are pro-BBL.

“And they are all for peace. Kaya sa amin hopefully hindi na maulit yung di napasa ang (We hope that there won’t be a repeat of the failure to pass) BBL or we will be facing a very difficult path,” he added.

A version of the BBL was bypassed during the previous administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III due to outrage over the Mamasapano massacre, wherein 44 police commanders were killed in a clash with Moro rebel groups in 2015.

The BBL is a proposed measure that aims to abolish the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and replace it with Bangsamoro Region that will enjoy fiscal autonomy. It will also serve as the completion of the peace process with the Moro rebels.

A different version of the BBL crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is currently pending before Congress. The BTC include representatives from the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Passing the proposed BBL has been among the campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte, who also hails from Mindanao, had repeatedly warned of a possible war in the southern region if Congress fails to pass the BBL.

But in a more recent statement, Lanao Sultan and BTC member Firdausi Ismail Abbas assured that the MILF and the MNLF will not wage war even if the proposed BBL fails to get Congress nod.

“We’re very thankful that the honorable senators are doing everything to see to it that this law will be passed. And there’s nothing from us, no statement could you ever expect that if this law will not be passed, there will be war,” Abbas said.

He reiterated, “Definitely, the MNLF will not go to war. Most of us are already old. The MILF neither will go to war.”

Abbas, however, warned that other groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), might “take advantage of the situation if this law will not be passed.”

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