Malacanang hopes for meeting of minds on Bangsamoro bill during Aquino, Murad meeting

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MALACANANG expressed Tuesday hope that the meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim could help in resolving issues on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

"Well, if the meeting pushes through, then it will give an opportunity for both leaders to thresh out the issues and concerns that are being brought forward, and hopefully that will lead to a meeting of the minds between them," said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a media briefing.

The Palace official, however, could not say when the meeting could be held.

But reports said that Aquino could meet Murad before his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 28.

The President suggested to meet again Murad during his brief meeting with him at the sidelines of a peace forum in Hiroshima, Japan late last month.

Coloma noted that both Aquino and Murad have expressed strong commitment and determination to immediately pass the BBL, the organic law for the proposed Bangsamoro government, which will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

"Kilalanin natin na pareho silang nagnanais na maisulong ang buong prosesong pang-kapayapaan hanggang sa minimithing kahihinatnan nito," he said.

The passage of the BBL is provided in the comprehensive peace agreement that the Aquino administration and the MILF signed in March this year.

In an earlier statement, government peace panel head Miriam Coronel-Ferrer warned that the Bangsamoro government could not be establish unless both sides have threshed out the "significant points of differences" on the draft BBL.

"As the review of the draft BBL by the negotiating panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) progresses, there continue to be significant points of differences between the parties," she said.

She reiterated that the GPH stands firm that it wants a BBL that can withstand political and legal scrutiny and be acceptable to various stakeholders, and the nation as a whole.

"We will not and cannot move forward in the roadmap towards the establishment of the Bangsamoro unless we hurdle this crucial stage. We wish the MILF to understand the basis for the comments made as part of the review process by the Office of the President (OP)," Ferrer said.

The President's legal team reviewed the draft BBL prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission led by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

The government and the MILF peace panels decided to hold a four-day special meeting in Malaysia last week to discuss the review conducted by the Office of the President. But there was no consensus reached during that meeting on the proposed Bangsamoro bill.

Some provisions in the draft BBL reportedly were against the Constitution, thus, could not pass legal scrutiny. (SDR/Sunnex)

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