COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/28 February) – A Duterte presidency will push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and make the Bangsamoro an example for the rest to follow under a federal system of government, Davao City mayor and Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte told a crowd of supporters at the plaza here Saturday afternoon.
Earlier at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao, Duterte told MILF officials led by Ghazali Jaafar that he would convene a Constitutional Commission to amend the 1987 Constitution to change the system of government into federalism but “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.”
At the Cotabato City plaza, the lone Presidential candidate from Mindanao stressed the need to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people and vowed that under his administration, “we will try to go federalism. Yang Bagsamoro sa mapa ngayon, wag nang galawin yan. Gawin na lang nating example na makopya sa lahat. Ang mangyayari nito, uunahin ko na lang pakiusapan ko ang Congress na we will pass the BBL (The Bangsamoro on the map now, let’s not touch that anymore. Let’s make it an example for the rest to copy. I will immediately ask Congress to pass the BBL).
He said he will also tell Nur Misuari “kopyahin na lang natin sila para sa Mindanao at buong Pilipinas” (let’s copy that in Mindanao and in the rest of the Philippines”). Misuari, whom Duterte considers a friend, is founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with whom government signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and whose implementation has yet to be fully completed.
Duterte said other Presidential aspirants do not care about Mindanao and do not even want the BBL even as “lahat ng mga leader sa Mindanao” (all leaders in Mindanao) agree that the Moro people should be given what is due them.
If he wins, Duterte, who said his grandmother is a Moro and he has daughters-in-law and grandchildren who are Moro, declared: “yung isang paa ng Moro ay nasa Malacanang na” (one foot of the Moro is already in Malacanang).
In Camp Darapanan, Jaafar, the MILF’s 1st Vice Chair (formerly referred to as Vice Chair for Political Affairs
), asked Duterte how he would revive the BBL should he become President.
Duterte, the first Presidential candidate to have visited the MILF camp, Duterte told Jaafar and members of the MILF Central Committee that if he were elected President, he would set a timetable and create a commission composed of multi-sectoral groups including the Bangsamoro.
He said the shift to the proposed federal set-up “will be undertaken by a Constitutional Commission, and thereafter if I am contented and it is gaining ground, BBL will be incorporated into the Constitution as an organic law of the Federal Republic of the Philippines,” he explained.
But Duterte admitted it might take long to take on a federal structure so “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.”
He said he predicted, the present administration “will just dribble” the problem to the next administration.
“I am so worried of the outcome of the BBL, I know how disappointed you are, so please I am here to plead with you just postpone action that might derail the peace process,” Duterte added.
The MILF had issued a statement on February 18, signed by MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, expressing its “deep disappointment and grave dismay” over the non-passage of the BBL” but said it will “continue to uphold the peace process and ensure that all the gains will be preserved.”
Also discussed at the meeting were the issues of radicalism and extremism. Already, armed Moro groups in Butig, Lanao del Sur, Datu Salibo in Maguindanao and some parts in Basilan and Sulu are reportedly being influenced by extremist groups abroad.
Jaafar, however, said, “there is no radicalism, extremism or terrorism, they are Bangsamoro heroes defending their rights. That was the feeling of majority after they felt fooled after the failure of BBL.”
He said these groups, who are “not members of the MILF,” just wanted to send a message to the government that they were hurt by the outcome of the peace deal “and how to stop them (is to) pass the BBL we have waited and negotiated for.”
The government and MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014, after 17 years of peace negotiations. The agreement called for the creation of a new autonomous political entity – the Bangsamoro – that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Duterte viewed the recent events as atrocities triggered by poverty and injustice, and said these groups were forced to the wall by government leaders. He vowed that under his administration, “we will correct the historical wrongs.”
He noted misconceptions about radicalism. He said the Malays like Malysian, Indonesians and Filipinos, have not reached the point of ruthlessly killing innocent women, children and anyone as the extremists in the Middle East are doing.
“Our Islam and Malay culture cannot do that, it is still inherent among us to be compassionate,” he said.
Jaafar said the MILF welcomes all candidates who wish to visit and discuss their platforms with the organization but they are not endorsing any candidate and will let their people choose whom they wish vote according to their conscience. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)