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MILF ready to contest petition vs Bangsamoro law

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it is ready to contest the petition filed by Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). 

In a statement posted on its official website on Tuesday, October 30, the MILF said it recognizes that it is "within the rights of Governor Tan to file this petition."

"However, it is also within our purview to challenge his motivation," said the rebel group, which signed a peace deal with the government. 

The MILF said it is confident the BOL did not violate any law, as it is not just a piece of legislation but a product of 17 years of negotiations and consultations with stakeholders, legal experts, and constitutionalists. 

"The BOL hopes to fulfill the Bangsamoro's right to self-determination, address the historical grievances of the Bangsamoro people, and introduce necessary reforms to promote good governance and improve the delivery of services in a region gravely affected by decades-long conflict," it added.

The MILF hopes that in questioning the BOL before the Supreme Court, Tan was motivated by "altruistic reasons" instead of "prolonging a political career."

"The BOL, compared to RA 9054 and RA 6734, has provisions that will grant the Bangsamoro people, including the Sulu province, the opportunity to chart their political, economic, and social future. Surely, the Sulu governor can see value in that?" it added.

Despite the obstacle, the rebel group said it remains committed to the peace process and will continue to work with various stakeholders in Mindanao to achieve peace.

In a separate statement, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he views the petition as "unfortunate," but added that he, too, respects Tan's right to challenge the law that will be up for a plebiscite in January 2019

Zubiri also said he is confident that the BOL will pass the High Court's scrutiny, as it was the product of "the Senate's best legal minds and with consultations done with eminent constitutionalists and former Chief Justices and Justices of the Supreme Court."

The MILF expressed the same hope.

"We can only hope that the honorable men and women of the High Court would see that the BOL will help reinforce and strengthen the political and legal foundation of just and lasting peace in the region," it said. 

"Moreover, it was deliberated upon and approved by the Congress' best legal minds who are also confident that the BOL can stand the test of constitutionality in the Supreme Court," the MILF added.

'Peace will win'

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman is also confident that the BOL "will stand well under scrutiny." 

"It is such a shame that it is a Moro who seeks to spoil this process all over again. We cannot allow the personal interests of anyone – especially not a Moro – to again sow discord where we so clearly need peace," Hataman said in a separate statement. 

"We cannot allow the short-sightedness that is the politics of patronage to again wreck the progress we have made on the road to a lasting peace," he added. 

Hataman said the BOL will become the "strong foundation of the peace we have been building for so long." 

"Moros are people of peace and peace will win in the end," he said. – Rappler.com