BBL ‘make or break’ issue for pols, says governor
TUBOD, Lanao del Norte—The thorny issue of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could “make or break” politicians in vote-rich Mindanao in the 2016 elections, Lanao del Norte Gov. Khalid Dimaporo said on Saturday.
Dimaporo, the fourth generation of an influential political clan in Mindanao, said the ruling party needed to convince Mindanao voters, most of them non-Muslim, that the creation of a Bangsamoro substate was “an agenda for peace in our area, and not a program giving over government resources on a silver platter to the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front).”
“First and foremost, the BBL has to be about maintaining peace in our region. It can make or break any candidate here in Mindanao. That’s what I believe,” said Dimaporo, whose province is not part of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
While he threw his support behind the BBL, Dimaporo said efforts aimed at including six municipalities of Lanao del Norte in the new Bangsamoro political entity should be decided through a plebiscite.
Unlike neighboring Lanao del Sur province and Marawi City, Lanao del Norte was never part of the ARMM, which will be dissolved once the BBL is enacted, he said.
“We support the initiatives of the Aquino administration to avoid any conflict that might (shoo away) incoming investors… and (cause) the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs in Lanao del Norte,” he said.
“So our stand is, yes, we want the BBL to push through, but we want a plebiscite. I can respect whatever the decision of the people in the six municipalities will be. I am asking Malacañang and the Congress not to transfer our six municipalities without clearance from the people.
Dimaporo also threw his support behind the ruling Liberal Party.
“In Lanao del Norte, we toe the party line and right now we stand with the LP. Once the (party) gives its marching orders, we will work very hard to ensure victory in the province for our party,” the governor told reporters.
“Once the LP announces his candidacy for president, we will be 101 percent behind Mar Roxas,” he said.
Roxas was here on the third leg of a whirlwind two-day visit to four Northern Mindanao provinces to oversee the turnover of brand-new police vehicles.
Dimaporo admitted that former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada was still a force to reckon with in Mindanao, where non-Muslim voters were still the majority.
For all-out war
He said voters in non-Muslim areas were supportive of Estrada for ordering an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 1999.
“I have to admit, Mindanao is still Erap country because of Erap’s all-out war (against the MILF). It’s a double-edged sword,” he said, adding:
“The non-Muslim areas are very appreciative of Erap’s all-out war because of the experiences that they had with the MILF. The Muslim areas, on the other hand, were against Erap’s all-out war. But Mindanao is predominantly non-Muslim in terms of voter population.”
Dimaporo said this political reality underscored the need for the Aquino administration to “properly deliver” the BBL to the residents of Mindanao.
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