DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 27 July) — President Benigno S. Aquino III only had a few words to say about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) but he snapped back at those opposing it during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday.
But Aquino challenged them to propose a better solution to resolve the long-standing conflict.
He called on Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and urged those who are opposing it to propose a meaningful alternative.
“If you do not present an alternative, you are only making sure that progress will never take root in Mindanao,” he said in Filipino.
“Ilang buhay pa ang kailangang ibuwis para magising ang lahat sa obligasyong baguhin ang sirang status quo sa Muslim Mindanao?” (How many more of our countrymen will have to perish before everyone realizes that the broken status quo of Muslim Mindanao must change?), he asked.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on Saturday said he was hopeful that the BBL will be passed before Aquino’s term ends on June 30, 2016.
“To do justice to the President, he has done so much to improve the lives of Filipinos but we cannot expect our President, with only six years to finish all these,” he said.
The MILF and the government (GPH) signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014.
The parties agreed that the status quo was “unacceptable” and that they would work for the creation of a new political entity called the Bangsamoro, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Murad called on Congress to pass a BBL that is not watered down but in accordance with the FAB and CAB.
“What is ideal is BBL will be passed as it is now,” he said before some 50 Mindanao and Manila journalists at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan on Saturday.
ARMM executive secretary Laisa Alamia said the BBL should be passed now because the people are already tired of wars that have displaced thousands of Moro people and derailed developments in the region.
Alamia said “They would want the law to be passed as much as possible,” she said, adding some people are saying it is not certain if the next administration would be as supportive to the peace process.
Last Friday, the first day of “Beyond Mamasapano: Reporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process” organized by the Mindanao Media Forum in Cotabato City, Alamia said 99 percent of the Moro people have experienced displacement due to armed conflicts.
Alamia explained that the ARMM suffers from structural infirmities, which will be corrected only if the BBL based on the original draft will be passed by the legislative branch.
“There are gaps which can actually be filled but there are structural infirmities that can only be resolved through the provisions of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), but the kind of BBL should not be less than what we have in the ARMM,” she added.
One of such infirmities is the disbursement of funds to the region.
The allocation of budget for projects, she said, will have to be coursed through the regional offices of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in Region 9 (Western Mindanao), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao, and Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
The House of Representatives will resume the period of interpellation on HB 5811, the substitute bill approved by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos has yet to release copies of the substitute bill he vowed to submit before the President’s SONA. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)