MANILA, Philippines – The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) gathered in Cotabato on Monday, March 6, to hold its first plenary session to begin work on drafting a revised Bangsamoro law that President Rodrigo Duterte promised he will get Congress to pass.
Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace deal with the previous Aquino administration, sat down with members of rival group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other Mindanao stakeholders nominated by the government.
MILF vice chairman and BTC chief Ghazali Jaafar underscored the challenge ahead of them.
The MILF had insisted on pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that the previous 16th Congress failed to pass in the aftermath of the bloody Mamasapano tragedy in 2015. But Duterte said the BBL has to be revised to be more “exclusive” amid protests from groups like the MNLF.
“We are all aware of the great responsibility that we carry from this day onward. Our collective mandate to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL is by itself already a heavy task. Making it more inclusive, even as it was inclusive already in terms of process and content, puts an added pressure on our part. But with gladness and sincerity, we would do it,” Jaafar said in his opening statement.
Jaafar is confident they will be able to navigate through the obstacles. “We are morally bound to see through it that what would eventually be passed by Congress of the Philippines is a BBL that is faithful and compliant to all signed agreements,” Jaafar said.
“We carry the trust of our people. As Muslims, we believe that our work in the BTC is also an amanah, something entrusted to us by Allah SWT. We cannot afford to fail in either respect, especially before our Creator by whose power any and everything happens or not,” Jaafar added. – Rappler.com