CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—Speaking at a recent media forum, a ranking official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front sought to allays fears that the group would resume hostilities if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be watered down or scrapped.
“We will not go to war unless we have to defend ourselves,” said Robert Alonto, vice chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.”
“If no situation dictates it, then we clearly do not intend to go to war,” he said.
Instead, he said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would opt to remain on the negotiating table with the government and continue pushing for the BBL.
“We will continue to honor the peace deal with the government, and even if we have to wait a little longer, then so be it,” he said, in apparent reference to the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is one of President Benigno Aquino’s priority measures.
The proposed bill has been in limbo in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after the ill-fated clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25 which left 44 Special Action Force members dead at the hands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its splinter group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
In the aftermath, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was accused of overkill, and questions to its sincerity in the peace process have since hounded the group.
The delay of the BBL has also fuelled fears of all-out war again in Mindanao which happened during the term of former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
However, Alonto said the group still prefers peace talks with the government over war should Congress strike down the bill.
“We have not left the peace agreement, and we can invoke our right to it so as to assume new negotiations with the Philippine government if need be,” he said.