MUNAI, Lanao del Norte -- Residents of Munai town in Lanao del Norte is awaiting the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) now being deliberated in Congress.
Munai Mayor Moammar Maquling told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in an interview on June 8 that he welcomes the BBL, adding, “Munai has always been pro BBL.”
Maquiling said Munai had been one of the hardest hit towns during the “all-out war” in 2000 during the administration of former President Joseph Estrada against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and in the August 2008 siege in Lanao Norte after the Supreme Court declared the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain unconstitutional.
Maquiling added that "at least ngayon, give peace a chance. Mahirap na ang palaging magyera. At least sa BBL makakamit na natin ang lasting peace. Hindi naman kawawa ang mga fighters kung di ang mga civilians (Give peace a chance. It is difficult to be always at war. At least with BBL, we can achieve the lasting peace. It is not the fighters who would face difficulties but the civilians)."
An estimated 35,000 civilians were displaced in 2008 armed conflict where most of the evacuees fled to the cities of Iligan and Ozamiz while hundreds perished, got injured and properties damaged in Lanao del Norte towns.
Munai is one of the six municipalities that might be included in the expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao once the BBL will be approved. This will also include Nunungan, Tangcal, Tagoloan, Baloi and Pantar towns if the proposed plebiscite wherein 10 percent of the populace will vote in approving or rejecting the BBL.
In terms of development, investment will come to Munai once the BBL will be passed into law, Maquiling believed.
The government of the Philippines-MILF peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer visited the elementary school children of Old Poblacion near Camp Bilal, Tambo, and Panggao on June 8 for the last leg of the extended Brigada Eskwela spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in coordination with the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 15th Infantry Battalion, 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Lanao del Norte Schools Division Office of the Department of Education and the local government unit of Munai.
Camp Bilal is under the command of Kumander Azzadulah Macapaar or known as Kumander Bravo.
Ferrer witnessed the simultaneous haircut activities wherein a soldier submit himself for free haircut from a member of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the MILF (BIAF-MILF) barber while an MILF fighter got a haircut from a soldier.
Ferrer said the decommissioning process would push through not only for the MILF but also for the private armed groups in Mindanao to prevent further armed conflict that will be managed by an independent decommissioning body created by the government.
Ferrer added that development will be more possible once the BBL will be approved where a plebiscite will determine whether the place like Munai can be officially included in the Armm.