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Accept BBL or leave it, Rodriguez dares MILF

FOR warning Congress against a watered down version of the Bangsamoro basic law, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front got this dare from a congressman: “Take it or leave it.”

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who heads the ad hoc Bangsamoro committee at the House of Representatives, was reacting to the MILF’s earlier pronouncements in an editorial posted on its website cautioning Congress that “hesitancy” in passing the BBL may result in “complications.”

“They can take it or leave it. They should not threaten us that we will have another war (if BBL fails),” Rodriguez said in a press conference Tuesday of the bill that seeks to implement the peace deal with MILF and create a more politically autonomous Bangsamoro entity.

“The government should not be threatened of a war. Takot na tayo eh, 43 years (of Muslim secessionist movement) na tayong takot… If they will not accept it, that is their concern,” he added.

Rodriguez said he still believes the MILF will accept the BBL even after the House Bangsamoro ad hoc panel weeded out eight provisions for being unconstitutional and unstable.

He said the panel left intact articles on the powers of the Bangsamoro government and fiscal autonomy, and that should be enough for the Moro group to accept the amended BBL.

“We have 18 sections with 200 plus provisions and we’re only mentioning eight. The MILF should not worry because the substance of the BBL … is left intact,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the panel deleted the provisions deemed unconstitutional the creation of a Bangsamoro Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit, Commission on Human Rights, Civil Service Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, and Commission on Human Rights.

The panel also removed the provisions that will require the President to coordinate military operations with the Bangsamoro chief minister and that will empower the chief minister to have operational control over the Bangsamoro police.

It also scrapped the provision that allows contiguous areas to be placed under the Bangsamoro entity upon a petition of at least 10 percent of its registered voters, as this may amount to creeping territorial expansion.

“Ultimately, I believe they will be accepting this. If not, what will we do? It will be on their shoulders now. They want to go back to square one? That depends on them… But we will pass whatever we think should be the law,” Rodriguez said.

Congressional support for the BBL waned after the MILF got involved in the attack against the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos last Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao who were withdrawing after killing international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir.

The lives of 44 SAF policemen, 18 MILF fighters and five civilians were lost in the clash.

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