Cayetano proposes alternatives to BBL
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano is drafting a bill that seeks to replace the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with either a stronger Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) or two autonomous regions in the South.
In a phone interview and text messages, Cayetano told the Inquirer that the measure was a result of consultations as early as February with Mindanaoans as well as Christian and Muslim scholars.
He said the bill was a response to Malacañang’s earlier challenge to critics of the BBL to pose alternatives to the proposed law that was part of the government’s peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“This is to show that there are many paths to peace, not just the BBL… especially if it’s an MILF/BBL power for peace deal,” Cayetano said.
The proposed BBL is currently stuck in Congress after lawmakers suspended hearings in the aftermath of the Jan. 25 killing of 44 members of the police Special Action Force by armed elements that included the MILF in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Cayetano had been vocal in his criticism against the BBL, even questioning the loyalty of government peace negotiators, led by presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles and professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, to the country after accusing them of siding with the MILF camp.
Yesterday, Cayetano reiterated that the country had tried several times to ink a peace deal in Mindanao but these did not work.
“You can’t buy or bribe your way to peace. Root causes have to be addressed,” he said.
From consultations he undertook with stakeholders for the past two months, Cayetano cited three things that Mindanaoans wanted: peace, justice and development; inclusive peace and development; and involvement in the peace process.
Cayetano said many Mindanaoans have “distrust” with the MILF and its true intentions.
“We will attempt to put (the alternatives) into at least one bill. Not everyone agrees on the alternative but many agree that there are many alternatives… from a stronger ARMM to two autonomous regions as alternatives,” he said.
He said Mindanao leaders want the measure to address their concerns and ensure that radical groups would not be able to push their agenda.
He said his measure hopes to show the Palace that the MILF is not only the group representing Mindanao.
The senator said the bill is still being drafted but he hopes to file it before Congress returns from its break on May 4.
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