Duterte rules out Bangsamoro army

Written by John Paolo Bencito.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ruled out the formation of any regional armed forces and police under the proposed Bangsamoro enabling law to ensure its passage in Congress. 

“What I cannot give...is the formation of a regional Armed Forces, and a regional armed Police. I’m sorry, I cannot give that,” Duterte said in another late Wednesday night press briefing in Davao City.    

Duterte said: “Let me just stress also a point here: I am committed to give to the Moro people what I promised. 

“Just remove the Constitutional issues in the [Bangsamoro Law] so that there won’t be anymore conflicts, no court, no litigation, no nothing; and if, in the fullness of God’s time, we’ll have a successful talk, we can have a Constitution that is [contains] whatever you want.”    

Earlier, Duterte said he was “ready to concede” the Bangsamoro enabling law to achieve lasting peace in conflict-stricken Mindanao.

Duterte hopes Congress could pass a version of the law without the supposedly unconstitutional provisions of the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law which suffered a huge setback after an encounter between PNP Special Action Force and members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front resulted in the deaths of 44 police commandos and members of the Moro group on Jan. 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. 

“We hope that with the 17th Congress, it will be a brighter future for the enabling law,” Duterte said.

He added the presence of the top leaders of the House of Representatives could be a sign of an “early enactment of an inclusive Bangsamoro enabling law.”

Duterte, in an earlier speech, said a separate police force in the Bangsamoro government would break the chain of command.

“For example, by creating the Regional Armed Forces and Regional Police, you break the chain of command (with the) commander in chief, whoever he is... In other words, the country will always be controlled by a single person whoever he is,” he said.

Following appeals from the MILF to pass first a Bangsamoro enabling law, Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said new efforts will be the new “test bed” for President Duterte’s plan to devolve power to the regions under a new federal government that he wants to put in place within his term.

Dureza said they are also looking forward to have a meeting with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari “but he is still under legal constraint because of the pending case against him.” However, there are “direct engagements with him through other channels.”

Misuari is facing charges following the so-called Zamboanga Siege, where more than 200 people were killed in a three-week battle.

Both sides held talks in Kuala Lumpur to discuss how to implement the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was thrown into uncertainty after the last Congress failed to pass an implementing law.

The government’s approved peace road map will merge all previously signed agreements that should be implemented, including the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, the provisions of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Law and Provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act.

Source: Manila Standard