Duterte to certify draft BBL as urgent

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 July) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte will certify the new draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as urgent, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced Tuesday.

Abella told a press briefing in Malacañan Palace that the President views the BBL as “one of the solutions to address the root cause of the problems of Mindanao.”

“The President wishes to lay the foundations of a constitutional Bangsamoro country the realm of our republic during his term marked by good and inclusive governance and sustainable and equitable development,” he said.

Duterte will deliver his second State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress on Monday, July 24, where he is expected to present his priority bills.

Duterte received a copy of the draft BBL from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission during the turnover ceremony in the Palace on Monday.

“I am for this,” Duterte said during the event.

“Within the context of the Republic of the Philippines there shall be a Bangsamoro country,” he added.

The draft BBL is the “best antidote of the violent extremism,” BTC chair Ghazali Jaafar said in light of the ongoing armed clashes between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City.

“We humbly submit this new proposed BBL, this is the best antidote to violent extremism that has wrought havoc in many parts of the Bangsamoro,” Jaafar, vice chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said during the turnover ceremony.

Jaafar said the BBL, if passed by Congress, “will erase the doubt on the peace process” and address the mistaken ideology of the extremists that “feeds into the frustration” of the Moro people.

He added that the BBL reflects the diversity of interests of the inhabitants of Mindanao and is the new formula to attain elusive peace in the island..

“The recent tragedy in Marawi City can only lead to isolation and public hatred over the extremists. We believe that what they have done to people of Marawi City, they did it out of frustration. What our people need is a just and dignified peace. They need the promises of peace that the BBL offers,” he said.

Duterte hopes “to end the centuries of hatred, mistrust and injustice” between government and Moro rebels in Mindanao as he vowed to support the draft BBL as it goes to congress for approval.

“The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law embodies our shared aspiration of a peaceful, orderly and harmonious nation after decades of arm struggle and violence, we will soon come up with a constitutionally, consistent legal instrument that will lay the foundation for establishing the real and lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said.

“The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law puts into life and spirit the constitutional mandate provided in the 1987 Constitution, for the establishment of a truly autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. This paves the way for meeting the just aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination, and that is consistent and reflective of the distinct and historical, cultural heritage and economic and social structures common to the people residing in Bangsamoro,” he added.

MILF chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad said he hopes the passage of the BBL will address the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro people.

He acknowledged that terrorists fighting the government have “filled the vacuum created by our failure to enact the basic law and feed into the frustration of our people. Even as we speak, fighting the distraction in Marawi continues.”

“The danger of violent extremism that feeds into the frustration of our people and takes over the narrative of historical injustice so that it can justify its virulent ideology which in reality never linked to the national aspiration of our people because it exploits the narrative of historical injustice. It is important to address legitimate grievances and correct historical injustice so that it will be denied a semblance of legitimacy,” he said.

He added, “Today marks the end of our active participation in the shaping of the basic law and commences our complete trust in the ability of government to develop on the promise of peace and development of our homeland.”

Once passed by Congress, Jaafar said the Bangsamoro government will be at the forefront of putting in place public order and safety, dispensing justice within the bounds of law, and addressing the basic requisites of a good life long denied to the Bangsamoro people.

He said they need the passage of the BBL so “we can start rebuilding our lives”.

“Moros truly believe that in your time and under your leadership, we, the Moro brothers and sisters, have publicly declared time and gain will see the dawning of a government in Bangsamoro homeland which they truly deserve,” he said.

The BBL was filed in the previous Congress, but it was sidelined after the Mamasapano encounter that claimed the lives of 44 police commandos, 17 MILF fighters and five civilians.

The encounter occurred on January 25, 2015, when members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police went to Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao to arrest suspected terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)