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Duterte meets MILF leaders, commits to work for BBL okay

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

After expressing desires to talk to Moro groups on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the proposed federal shift, President Duterte met with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Davao City Tuesday night.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Davao City on March 27, 2018. Joining the President are Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and Special Assisant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Davao City on March 27, 2018. Joining the President are Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and Special Assisant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said Duterte met with the MILF leaders led by the group’s chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim at the Matina Enclaves upon the request of the MILF leaders.

They were joined by Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Ghadzali Jaafar, and MILF Peace Panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

“This is part of the previously agreed arrangement that there will be periodic and regular meeting of both sides as efforts for the eventual passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) are underway in both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” Dureza said.

According to Dureza, Duterte reiterated to the MILF his desire to have the BBL installed in Mindanao, repeating his stand that this will solve the long-standing crisis in the island.

“President Duterte reiterated to them his continuing and consistent desire and commitment to install the enhanced government structure and governance that will hopefully solve the root causes of the Moro rebellion and address the historical injustice suffered by the Bangsamoro over generations,” he said.

Dureza also said that Duterte assured them that he would push for the passage of the BBL and would even resort to exercising his powers to fulfill his commitment in case the bill does not pass the hurdles of the Congress.

“The President said he would assist even to the extent of relaying to both chambers of Congress his determination to help push for the passage of the BBL that is compliant with the comprehensive agreement of the Bangsamoro, and as close as possible, to the new draft law submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission,” Dureza said.

“In the event this does not take place in Congress, he [the President] said he would go to the extent of even exercising his residual powers through administrative directives to fulfill this commitment,” he added.

“He again stressed the ‘inclusive’ character of the new BBL where all tribes and sectors, including non- Muslims, will benefit from the new BBL when it is finally entrenched,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Dureza also said that former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured them that she will support the BTC-drafted version that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez authored.

He also said that Senator Miguel Zubiri also said that the Senate would act by May this year.

“She [Arroyo] said she would withdraw authorship of her previously signed bill to fast track the approval of the new version. Senate sub-Committee chair Senator Miguel Zubiri, who was then in London, also said the Senate would act on the bill before Congress adjourns ‘sine die’ on May 15 this year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Murad said that the MILF has never doubted the sincerity of Duterte in his commitments to pass the BBL.

“If this does not get done during the presidency of President Duterte, we seriously doubt if we can do it at all in the future. President Duterte is now our only and last card,” Murad said.

In his speech in Patikul, Sulu, Monday, Duterte committed to talk to Moro leaders as this is the fastest way to reconcile their issues on the BBL.

“Gusto kong kausapin kayong lahat. Kung kaya ninyong magpunta sa Malacañang, punta kayo lahat. If not, ako magpupunta dito (I want to talk to you all. If you can go to Malacañang, then all of you go there. If not, then I will go to you),” the President said.

“What we need to do is talk and talk to find a solution. I can’t give you a timeline now, but next week, I hope we can talk…. That’s the time I can talk to Nur and Murad,” he added.

“Wala akong ibang hangarin kundi bigyan ng kapayapaan ang mga Moro sa Mindanao (I have no wish but to give all Moros in Mindanao peace),” he continued.

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