Legislators ready to help make peace deal workBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the limited time left, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday expressed hope that legislators would be able to help in realizing the Bangsamoro territory envisioned in the framework for peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In a chance interview with reporters at the House of Representatives, Belmonte said that they welcomed the creation of the Bangsamoro territory and despite the limited time, remained positive that they will be able to help attain “this elusive peace which we have been seeking since the 1970′s. I hope that it finally brings a satisfactory conclusion to this conflict.”
Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas said that Charter change was necessary to dissolve the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and create in its place the new Bangsamoro territory. He suggested a “piecemeal” Charter change to ensure that only the provision on the ARMM is changed in the process.
Belmonte said that Charter change was necessary “if you look at the Constitution (but) it will take a lot of time”, adding that the members of the House of Representatives would focus on it.
“If we are very focused here in this case with respect to Bangsamoro and in other cases our previous advocacies with three or four economic provisions we don’t necessarily have to put them together but they’re very simple changes which are of far-reaching consequences for the good of the country,” he said.
But Belmonte was unable to provide a definite time as to how long it would take Congress to work on the new agreement. “Let’s take a look at it, it would depend on how fast it can be submitted to us.”
“Still we have to admit time is now limited to a greater degree than the first and second sessions,” he added.
But for the agreement to be effective, Belmonte urged the people to enter it “in good faith. If we are to do so with suspicion, then we most likely guarantee hindi ito magkakatotoo. I hope both sides will (enter the agreement) in good faith and conform to do their part to make peace possible.”
He said that they supported the new agreement as it would bring peace which in turn will pave the way for more foreign investments to enter the country.
“We have millions of countrymen unable to catch up because of the warring situation in their part of the country. I hope all of that will now change and that the huge potential of the areas covered by conflict will be achieved,” said Belmonte.