Aquino still hopeful for Bangsamoro law’s passage

Posted on June 11, 2016

OUTGOING President Benigno S. C. Aquino III remained hopeful that the next Congress will pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was drafted to bring peace in war-torn Mindanao and unlock the island’s economic potential.

“[W]e witnessed the signing of a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. By March of 2014, there was a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. And now, we remain hopeful for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the incoming Congress,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech at the launching of Junctures, a publication of select speeches and statements in the course of peace process between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday night in Malacañang.

Deliberations of proposed law -- which will also address the centuries’ old inequality suffered by Muslims -- were effectively derailed by the Jan. 25, 2015 bloody encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF), MILF, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters which resulted in the deaths of 67 individuals including 44 SAF members.

Although Mr. Aquino admitted that the culmination of the efforts of MILF and the government has been delayed, he maintained the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been “enjoying dividends of peace” and they were given a “significant boost to catch up” since the peace negotiation was launched in 2012.

“These are only a few pieces of good news from ARMM; and there is a lot more to come if we continue along the road to a true and lasting peace. This is the right path. It is a path that has benefited those in the margins of society; and it is a path that heals the fractures within the country we share. And the message that we now send to our countrymen is: We must continue along this path,” the President said.

Aside from the peace process, Mr. Aquino also lauded the infrastructure programs for ARMM under his leadership, such as the P64.61-billion national and local investments from 2011 to 2016 for roads, bridges and flood control projects.

“Let us not forget: Having an honest and accountable regional government -- together with a relatively more peaceful and stable environment -- is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of the any economy, both national and regional. This is why we required transparency in the disclosure of the funds and projects by the ARMM regional line agencies,” said Mr. Aquino, who will step down from office on June 30, said.

“I truly believe that our combined efforts can bring about a Mindanao -- and a Philippines -- that is free from conflict, one that we can be proud to bequeath to future generations,” Mr. Aquino said. -- Raynan S. Javil