Updates Per Peace Table

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BBL passage and federalism can go hand-in-hand - Ferrer

MANILA - The choice does not have to be between the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and federalism, said Government of the Philippines (GPH) chief negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer in response to incoming legislator Pantaleon Alvarez's statement that the next Congress will no longer pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)  and go straight to a shift to federalism.

According to Ferrer, it can be both the law and charter change. The next Congress can pass the draft law  within 2016 and at the same time undertake the needed legal processes for charter change.
 
"Any move to change the charter requires a lot of study and consultations. It will take several years since such a major change is not a mere amendment to the constitution and is best done through a constitutional convention," Ferrer said.

"Any further delay with completing the Bangsamoro peace process will work against the stability of the next administration," said the Aquino administration's negotiator for talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). "Set up the Bangsamoro entity and let it exist. If we delay the road map, things might get worse. There are extremist ideologies existing around us recruiting among the Moro youth."

 Ferrer pointed to the advantages in pursuing the current roadmap laid out in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. 

“Passing the BBL as soon as possible will help stabilize the situation in the Bangsamoro. It will pave the way for the full-scale decommissioning of the MILF's weapons and combatants, the delivery of the socio-economic programs, and greatly enhance security cooperation between the government and the MILF," said Ferrer.

The partnership between the government and the MILF is essential in fighting crime and terrorism in the region, she added.

Aside from the legislative track of establishing the Bangsamoro, the CAB also provides a roadmap for the implementation of socio-economic programs for the normalization of conflict-affected areas and the transition of MILF combatants back to civilian lives.

Without the enactment of a CAB-compliant Bangsamoro law, the decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and implementation of the normalization track remain stalled.

The BBL, is the enabling law for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity that seeks to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It provides for political and fiscal reforms that will greatly enhance the fiscal and political autonomy of the region. 

However, the proposed law was not passed by the current Congress before it adjourned for the national and local elections last February. 

Ferrer said she believes that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte understands the importance of passing the BBL, noting that during the last presidential debate held in Pangasinan last April, Duterte voiced his support for the BBL as a way to correct the historical injustices done to the Moros and the key to ending their armed insurgency.

“You have to make the peace there [in Mindanao] bago ka makagalaw (before you can move),” Dutere had said during the televised debate among the presidential contenders.

“Kung hindi mo makausap ito in peace talks, everything will fail (If you cannot talk it out in the peace talks, everything will fail). And I am telling now, the Republic of the Philippines, nothing will appease the Muslims, the Moro people if we do not give them the BBL.”

The government peace panel chair assured the incoming President and his peace lieutenants that the current government panel will turn over a fully functional set of mechanisms charged with overseeing all the different components of the CAB, from the ceasefire to the camps transformation and decommissioning to transitional justice and overall monitoring. 

"We will be handing over our data base system and assessments of all the different activities as part of our terminal report under this administration and this would be very useful to the next," Ferrer stated. 

Ferrer called on newly elected officials and the general public to keep their steadfast support for the peace negotiations. "I hope that we will finally achieve the much-needed national consensus to continue with the implementation of the peace agreements," she said.