Trouble ahead if Congress fails to pass BBL — Duterte

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 October) – The country is “headed for a trouble” if Congress would fail to pass soon the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), President Rodrigo R. Duterte warned.

In a media briefing in Davao City on Sunday night before leaving for Japan, Duterte urged Congress to expedite the passage of the new BBL that was drafted by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“If we do not act on it expeditiously, I think that we are headed for a trouble. We must continue to talk and I will urge Congress to fast-track it because they are getting impatient. And I told them of the wages of how to negotiate peace,” he said.

“Sandali lang but we will comply on our side what we have promised,” he said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte reiterates that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is of great importance to attaining peace among the Moros in Mindanao during his speech at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on October 29, 2017 prior to his departure for a two-day official visit to Japan. Albert Alcain /PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Duterte assured that he would fulfill his commitments to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro Naitonal Liberation Front, and vowed they would work for a transition from a unitary to a federal form of government.

“Eh that is a commitment eh. Not even a promise but a commitment to the Moro people,” he said.

The President reiterated he will give the Moro people “the territories that they want and the kind of framework and governance that they expect with a reformation of all the things in the Philippines.”

The BTC, which comprises 11 members from the MILF and 10 from the government, submitted to the Palace on July 17 the new BBL draft which was transmitted to Congress on August 14.

During the turnover ceremony in Malacañang on July 17, BTC chair Ghazali Jaafar said the new draft BBL is the “best antidote of the violent extremism” in light of the Marawi siege that started on May 23 and ended five months after.

“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 said.

Jaafar, who is also MILF 1st vice chair, said that if the draft BBL gets approved by Congress, “it will erase the doubt on the peace process” and counter the “extremism” that feeds on the the frustration of the Moro people.

He added that the BBL reflects the diversity of interests of the Bangsamoro people, non-Bangsamoro indigenous people and secular communities, and is the new formula to attain elusive peace in Mindanao.

“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 the 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.

Marawi rehab

Duterte said the country will seek Japan’s assistance in the rehabilitation of Marawi, emphasizing that the failure to rehabilitate the place “could have grave consequences for Mindanao and for the entire country.”

“I think the damage alone and the dimension of the destruction, we would tell Japan that we need their very best in their assistance. And I do not doubt that Japan can graciously give us the help that we — of course, we do not expect that Japan would solve all the problems for us. But I — I would see significant assistance, considering, I said, the dimension of the destruction,” he said.

The President said terrorism and extremism had been the centerpiece of the meeting among the world leaders in trying to eliminate the ideology “which knows nothing except to destroy and kill.”

Duterte thanked the Japanese government for its assistance in addressing the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. He said China has also sent equipment to Marawi.

“And I have something for you about money and the things that would…But I have to talk to the Cabinet first. That would be maybe Monday when I come back. I have to seek clearance also and the concurrence of the Senate if we could,” he said.

He said that In his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he will discuss ways to further strengthen strategic bilateral partnership between the two countries, such as in the economy, peace and progress in Mindanao, and the build-up of modern infrastructures in the country.

Duterte said he and Abe will also discuss how to deal with regional and global security concerns “if it gets worse.”

“One is security of the regional threat and of the entire world. We had been in discussion, together with the rest of peace-loving neighbors and even I had the chance to talk to (US Defense) Secretary James Mattis,” he said.

The President added he will bring up the lowering of tariffs on fruits from the Philippines, which include, banana, pineapple, and mango.

He will also meet other high-ranking Japanese government officials, influential business leaders and Emperor Akihito.

“As we sustain these efforts, we have to act with other nations who share the same values and aspirations that we hold dear, and work together towards lasting peace, security and stability,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)