Aquino on Bangsamoro: I don’t think war will break out
President Benigno Aquino III thinks it is unlikely that armed conflict will prevail in Mindanao if the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) does not push through.
“I don’t submit to the premise that war will break out. I don’t think there is any interest from the major players to reengage in a bloody conflict,” Aquino told editors, columnists and reporters on Tuesday at the Meet the Inquirer multimedia forum held in Makati City.
The success of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is said to be one of the possible legacies of the Aquino administration.
However, the Mamasapano incident in January this year, which left 44 policemen, 17 MILF fighters and at least three civilians dead, has resulted in the stalling of the BBL in Congress.
There are fears that the conflict in Mindanao will worsen in case the BBL is not passed into law.
Although Aquino trusts the government’s partners in Mindanao, he said “there will be the spoilers who will want to exploit the current difficulties to show that … gaining what they want through violent means is the only way to go about it.”
“So those of us who are advocating peace should really even redouble our efforts to thwart these groups who would want us to plunge again into a pointless conflict,” he said.
Aquino said both Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte had told him that they were confident that the BBL would be passed despite “difficulties.”
“On the executive’s portion, we would want to continue the engagement of our dialogue partners, specifically the MILF, and programs, through programs like Sajahatra. We want them to experience and the population in general in this region the benefits or the so-called peace dividends arising from this agreement,” he said.
Aquino said that even without the BBL, he hoped stakeholders would “engage in the process” and support such programs and initiatives.
“Having said that, we will continue to lobby with members of Congress to pass the law during our watch and pass it at the earliest possible time so that the new mode of governance will have the maximum time to show the effectivity or the efficacy of this new mode of governance,” he said.
The President also said those who had hindered the peace process would most likely suffer in the 2016 elections.
“So who should be blamed? I think I leave that up to the Filipino people who will have an opportunity in next year’s elections to gauge the merit or lack of it of the people who will propose themselves to lead various offices,” he said.
Critics of the peace pact and the BBL, which will pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity, have accused the MILF of being insincere. Aquino himself received flak for alleged insensitivity toward the families of the slain Special Action Force troopers or the SAF44. Kristine Angeli Sabillo/RC
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