Lawmakers want Misuari, Kato in hearings for Bangsamoro Law

Sep. 16, 2014

DAVAO CITY — Mindanao legislators want to reach out to two other Muslim liberation groups in an effort to make the House Bill 4994 or the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) inclusive of differing views on peace for Mindanao.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Professor Nur Misuari and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Force (BIFF) led by Umbra Kato expressed opposition to the BBL, a draft law that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro entity.

The draft law was submitted to Congress by panels from the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last week.

Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on BBL, said in a press forum in Manila that they would seek out other groups to make the law comprehensive to tackle peace in the Muslim area.

“The bill is for all Bangsamoro. It’s not only for the MILF or the BIFF, it is for all Bangsamoro, all provinces and sectors, and all Muslim groups,” he said.

Bayan Muna partylist Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, a member of the ad hoc committee, also supported the call for more stakeholders to join in the hearings and public dialogues.

“All stakeholders must of course be included, if possible. We are discussing here the issue of bringing peace to Mindanao and addressing the historical wrongs committed against the Moro people,” Zarate said.

The House committee is expected to tackle the bill on Tuesday. Rodriguez said they are targeting the completion of the bill on December 17.

But Ednar Dayanghirang, newly appointed assistant for Mindanao to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), raised concerns about including different Moro factions saying the peace panel had made efforts already in the past to contact Misuari.

“In the panel level there were efforts to reach out.  But there was no clear response from the leaders,” Dayanghirang explained in a press conference Monday.

Dayanghirang said they had instead reached out to the “constituencies” of the MNLF on the drafting of the bill.

He added that while he welcomed the efforts between the MILF and the MNLF to form the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum last June, he pointed out that the MNLF leadership has been “factionalized” between the Misuari group and the Sema-led Group of 15.

But Zarate said one option is to “invite all of them” to the hearings.

Another problem posed by Dayanghirang is that Misuari has a warrant of arrest for his alleged involvement in the military and MNLF standoff in Zamboanga City last September 2013.

Rodriguez, however, is appealing to the Department of Justice to suspend the warrants of arrest on Misuari and Kato so that they can attend the committee hearings in Manila.

But Dayanghirang said the government is calling out to both MNLF and BIFF to “join us” in discussing peace.

“This is like in basketball. You already played your game, now that another team has come, and if you want to play, you have to join the team,” he said.

The call for the inclusion of Misuari was raised last week by former peace negotiators Jesus Dureza and Irene Santiago, who said the deliberation of the law should include the tripartite review recommendations on the MNLF final peace agreement.

Aside from Misuari and Kato, the ad hoc committee would also hold hearings with constitutional experts such as Supreme Court justices and deans of colleges of laws to see if the bill will pass the constitutionality questions.   (

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