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Jaafar asks fellow Muslims to be more patient with proposed BBL.

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

ISABELA CITY, Basilan -- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar asked his fellow Muslims to be more patient with the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as he expressed hope that the long-overdue measure is nearing enactment.

"Hinihingi po namin ang mahabang pasensya ng mga kapatid natin na Muslim, maghihintay po sila sapagkat maganda po ang takbo ng BBL ngayon (We are asking our Muslim brothers and sisters to be more patient, please wait because BBL now is smooth-sailing)," Jaafar said.

Jaafar also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which drafted the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, which will replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in a bid to address violent extremism in the region.

The BTC's draft was adopted by the Senate subcommittee on the Bangsamoro Law that has been conducting successive public consultations in Mindanao to be able to hear the sentiments of local officials and residents on the measure. Today senators were in Basilan State College here, and later proceeded to Zamboanga City to deliberate on the proposed law.

While senators are upbeat on passing the BBL before their legislative break on March 22, Jaafar appealed to his fellow Muslims not to rush the government in enacting the law. He assured that even President Duterte "has decided" to sign the BBL.

During the Senate hearings, supporters of the BBL called for the "immediate" passage of the measure, citing failed attempts in creating the new region during previous administrations. Resource speakers also refused a watered-down BBL and pushed to implement the BTC draft as is.

"Pero may dinadaanang proseso. Hindi naman pwedeng in just one night, andyan na. So hinihingi po namin sa mga kababayan namin in Bangsamoro, let us wait. March 22, tapos na ang BBL (But there are processes to be followed. We can't have it in one just night. So we are asking our people in Bangsamoro, let us wait. By March 22, BBL is approved)," he said.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, meanwhile, asked the Bangsamoro people to understand that changes have to be made in the BTC draft.

"Please respect the Senate's legislative power that we also have to -- allow us to propose amendments," he told the Basilan audience.

BBL subcommittee chair Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, for his part, assured to keep the "essence" of the draft especially its provisions on self governance.

This is the third time that the government is attempting to pass a law abolishing the ARMM and creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Efforts to enact the proposed BBL during the 16th Congress have been derailed by criticisms over its constitutionality, in addition to unprecedented events such as the death of 44 special action force (SAF) troopers in a clash with Moro guerillas in January 2015.


MILF central committee Vice Chair Gazali Jaafar listens the media during the " Countdown to Peace" forum at a restaurant in Manila. (MB PHOTO/JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN)

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Title Annotation:Mindanao
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Feb 9, 2018
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