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Miriam trains guns on MILF

  • Written by Bernadette E. Tamayo
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 3709
Featured Miriam Defensor-Santiago Miriam Defensor-Santiago

WHO gave the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the authority to represent the Bangsamoro or Muslim Filipinos considering that other Muslim groups exist including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)?
    
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago posed this question amid the peace agreement the Aquino administration has forged with the MILF to end decades of conflict in Southern Philippines. The peace agreement calls for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) creating the Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.
   
The Armed Forces leadership has vowed to cripple the BIFF and the newly-formed Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM), which was reportedly a break-away group of the BIFF.
    
“Which one shall be validly allowed to claim that it represents the Bangsamoro or the entire Islamic peoples within the Philippine territory? The first thing that will happen when we pass this Bangsamoro Law is there will be an internal war, another non-international armed conflict, this time among those claiming to be leaders,” said Santiago in a briefing Thursday.
    
“So, the very first question really is the standing to negotiate. Where is the authority of the President of the Philippines and the MILF to negotiate a substate? That is the first question,” she said. Santiago said that it is “irrelevant” what date the Senate will hold its debates on whether to pass the BBL.
    
Santiago, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, had conducted one public hearing on the BBL to check its constitutionality. She earlier concluded that the BBL is unconstitutional and she will explain her view in the committee report that she will soon submit to the upper chamber.
    
The MILF leaders had demanded that Congress pass the BBL “without any revisions.”  But Santiago, together with Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Ralph Recto rejected the MILF’s position since they found several provisions in the BBL “unconstitutional.”
      
“Eventually, whether or not Congress passes the BBL, the matter will end up in the Supreme Court. The thing is that everyone overlooked the basic fact: Do they have authority to negotiate? If they claim to have it, what is its basis in the Constitution? Treaty nga lang, hindi mo maisagawa iyan nang hindi kami nag-concur, iyon pang gagawa ka ng sub-state?” Santiago stressed.