MILF on Duterte’s signing of BOL: More challenges lie ahead

Published July 27, 2018, 7:11 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Keith Bacongco

DAVAO CITY – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) implementing chair Mohagher Iqbal has welcomed the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) into law while admitting that they have yet to face greater challenges on the implementation of the signed peace deal.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jess Dureza, Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman, Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, President Rodrigo Duterte, Ghazali Jaafar, chairman, Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and Mohagher Iqbal, chairman, MILF Peace Panel during the submission of the Bangsamoro Basic Law last July 17, 2017 in Malacanang. (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jess Dureza, Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman, Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, President Rodrigo Duterte, Ghazali Jaafar, chairman, Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and Mohagher Iqbal, chairman, MILF Peace Panel during the submission of the Bangsamoro Basic Law last July 17, 2017 in Malacanang. (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque bared on Thursday night that the President has already signed the BOL.

Iqbal thanked Duterte, whom he described as the father of the BOL, along with the legislators of both chambers.

But as 9 p.m. on Thursday, Iqbal said they have not yet received formal notification from the government that the BOL has been signed. Instead, Iqbal admitted he had only heard and seen the President himself announced the signing of the law through his live televised speech while in Zamboanga.

“It is beyond our happiness but we can already imagine the challenges and the expectation of our people but we believe we have the will and that we can surmount all obstacles along the way,” Iqbal said in phone interview with the Manila Bulletin.

Iqbal, who also chairs the MILF’s information committee, admitted that the MILF has to hurdle greater challenges along with gargantuan tasks of establishing and running a good and responsive governance in the Bangsamoro region.

To be able to deliver the expectation of our people, he added that the implementation of the peace deal requires a collective effort. “And of course, for us Muslims, we always ask for guidance and directions from the one above.”

The BOL, which used to be known as Bangsamoro Basic Law, is an enabling law that would create a new autonomous government replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Passage of the BBL was stalled in 2015 following the Mamasapano clash that left 44 Special Action Force troopers and about 18 Moro rebels dead.

The clash sparked public outcry prompting the lawmakers to scrap the then proposed BBL.

But this time, the BOL hurdled the scrutiny from both the Senate and Congress. The President himself pushed for the passage of the law saying that it would bring peace in the region.

For Iqbal, who had also served as chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission from 2012 to 2016, the enactment of the BOL marks another journey toward establishing a governance where no one is left behind.

The BOL is a product of peace negotiations between the government and the MILF that formally started in 1997, which was then chaired by then MILF’s vice chair for military affairs and now MILF chief Al Hadj Murad Ebrahim.

But the road to peace deal hurdled major stumbling blocks as it was interrupted due to major wars in 2000, 2003 and 2008.

“For someone like me who had been involved in the negotiations and in the crafting of the law since day one, it is very hard to put words how I feel. It’s overwhelming,” said Iqbal, who had served as MILF’s chief negotiator from 2003 to 2016. “It’s an achievement of a lifetime.

 
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