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MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Hundreds of residents flocked to this city’s main road on Cabili Avenue to protest the failure of Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), blaming President Benigno Aquino III for it.
Alim Ali Nor Guro Umpara of the Bangsamoro Youth Movement, an ulama of Marawi City, blasted Aquino’s failure to deliver the BBL, which is a commitment in the peace agreement signed by the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The BBL is supposed to set the stage for the creation of a Bangsamoro region that enjoys more political and fiscal independence than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“With the scrapping of the BBL, let us go back to our original demand of independence,” Umpara told the crowd. He called Aquino a “traitor.”
Datu Musa Sultan, president and lead convener of the Confederation for Peace, accused the government of deliberately not passing the law, noting how lawmakers killed “precious time” debating it but in the end did not approve it.
Aquino wanted the law passed this year but the timetable was set back severely following public outrage over the death of 44 police commandos in an encounter with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January 2015.
Despite Aquino’s lobbying, opposition from some legislators had delayed its passage.
Adding to the time pressure is Congress’ scheduled adjournment in February before the presidential elections in May.
The President has ordered his Cabinet to exert special efforts to ensure that the peace pact with the MILF is implemented even after his term.
Former Lanao del Sur 1st district Representative Benasing Macarambon said that the non-passage of the BBL could further radicalize the Muslim youth in Mindanao.
Macarambon cited the problems posed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao, the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) in Basilan and Sulu, and the Islamic State in Syria & Iraq, also known as ISIS, IS, ISIL, or Da’esch. ISIS is said to be recruiting actively in Central Mindanao.
“No matter how this government is denying it, they exist. They are small right now, less than one thousand, but there is an ISIS movement now,” Macarambon said. – Rappler.com