MILF won't decommission forces if gov't fails to approve Bangsamoro bill - Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would not decommission its forces if the government fails to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
In a speech in Pampanga where he led the oath-taking of around 3,100 newly-elected barangay captains in Central Luzon, Duterte expressed hope the Bangsomoro bill would finally be passed into law.
"There is a pending bill which we hope to become a law and we further pray that this will not be abused by all and it will bring at least a degree of peace in Mindanao," he said.
"Because (MILF Chairman Al Haj) Murad (Ebrahim) said there will be no decommissioning of their armed force unless they get the BBL," the President added.
Under the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the Aquino administration and the MILF signed in 2014, the decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF combatant group, would take place in phases.
Full decommissioning would be realized once the BBL is passed and fully implemented.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have passed their respective versions of the proposed BBL. They have yet to reconcile them.
Duterte earlier expressed hope he could sign the Bangsamoro bill into law in time for his State of the Nation Address on July 23 when Congress opens its session.
Duterte assured that the government would not take away the resources in MILF areas, including those in Liguasan Marsh.
"They (MILF) are so wary about Liguasan Marsh. Somebody told them that it could - far beneath the bowels of earth is a trillion cubic meter of oil. I said, 'we won't get it'," he said.
Duterte said he promised to the MILF all natural resources in Bangsamoro areas would be theirs.
"But then in exchange, we have to live together side by side in peace," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS