'Moro Convention' eyed to craft new Bangsamoro law
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Muslim rebels plan to gather hundreds of stakeholders in Manila or Davao City in a weeks-long "Moro Convention" that aims to craft a new proposed law to end decades of conflict in the southern Philippines.
In a news conference on Sunday evening, June 19, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Abul Khayr Alonto said the proposed Moro Convention will include members of the MNLF and its rival group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
"The MILF and MNLF will be there as members, and they will be talking as a Bangsamoro. No more fronts. It's already the future of the Bangsamoro," Alonto said.
Asked when the Moro Convention will happen, he said they "will start talking about it" as early as July, after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte takes office on June 30.
Alonto said the Moro Convention will be historic "in the sense that we are meeting now to craft a law."
This output is seen as a new version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aimed to create a more powerful Muslim region in the southern Philippines.
Through the BBL, advocates hoped to end 4 decades of conflict that has killed at least 150,000 people and forced 3.5 million others out of their homes. (Watch more in the video below)
The BBL, however, languished in Congress after a botched police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, killed 67 people and was blamed on the MILF. Under the Aquino administration, the MILF was engaged in a peace process with the Philippine government.
Hope 'revived' under Duterte
In the case of the Moro Convention, Alonto said stakeholders will consult Muslim communities about their output, which they will eventually submit to Duterte.
Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, can possibly endorse their output to Congress as a new Bangsamoro law.
On the previously proposed BBL, Alonto explained that if the Mamasapano incident didn't happen, the BBL "could have been a very good law that even President-elect Duterte will adopt and will continue to implement."
"The BBL could have very well put an end to that war in Mindanao," he said of the proposed law that was pushed by the MILF.
Alonto said the difference of the new Moro Convention is that "it represents all the fronts."
He said the Moro Convention "is, in fact, a collective effort of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front."
Alonto bared his proposal two days after Duterte met with leaders of the MILF and MNLF in Davao City.
Alonto said the Bangsamoro lost hope after the Mamasapano incident derailed the BBL.
"But we are here because that hope once again is revived and resuscitated because of the election not only of a true son of Mindanao but a brother, by blood – Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the president-elect of the Philippines, the first Mindanaoan president," the MNLF chairman said. – Rappler.com