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Philippines talks: Aquino receives draft of self-rule law

MILF says it has agreed with negotiators of the Philippine government on the final form of the proposed law

Gulf News

Manila: President Benigno Aquino has received the draft of a proposed law that will establish enhanced self rule for Filipino-Muslims in a wider autonomous territory in the southern Philippines, officials said.

“The latest draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been submitted to the President for his review,” said peace adviser Teresita Deles, adding, “The peace process that was forged by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March is now on track.”

Aquino will release to the public details of the proposed law on Friday, said Deles.

“We are respectfully submitting the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). We are ready to adhere to our understanding to work on the final text of the proposed BBL after its review by the President,” MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal wrote on the cover letter of the proposed bill, which was addressed to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa junior

The MILF confirmed on Luwaran, its website, that negotiators of the Philippine government and the MILF finally agreed on the final form of the proposed law, adding that it now “embodies the spirit of the framework agreement” signed by the two parties last March.

“President Aquino will prioritise the sending of the proposed bill to Congress,” vowed Secretary Herminio Coloma of the presidential information office.

Although its approval in Congress will end decades of armed conflict in the southern Philippines, officials also said that legislating the government-MILF peace agreement calls for charter change.

In a framework agreement signed last March, the Philippine government and the MILF agreed that the Bangsamoro region will retain 100 per cent of its revenue from non-metallic minerals such as sand, gravel and quarry; 75 per cent of income from exploration, development and utilisation of metallic minerals; and 50 per cent of income derived from fossil fuels and uranium.

They have agreed that the Bangsamoro Assembly’s 50 members will represent districts, sectoral groups, and other groups, to be headed by a Chief Minister who is elected by majority of the assembly.

They have agreed that the national government and the Bangsamoro region will equally share power in 14 areas including concerns on civil service, coast guard, land registration, pensions, pollution control, penology, public works (maintenance of roads and bridges), and social security

The Bangsamoro region will have autonomous power in 58 areas including ancestral domain, fisheries, marine and aquatic resources, mine and mineral exploration, natural resources, power generation, revenue sources, and tourism.

The national government retains autonomous power on areas concerning citizenship and naturalisation, coinage and monetary policy, common market, customs and tariff, defence and external security, foreign policy, global trade, immigration, intellectual property rights, and postal service.