Duterte vows Bangsamoro ‘homeland’ in 3 years
The Bangsamoro people could have a “homeland” of their own in Mindanao in three years’ time, President Duterte said on Tuesday.
Mr. Duterte is expecting the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to submit to him the latest version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which he might sign on Monday in time for Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
“On Eid al-Fitr, we’ll meet in Malacañang. And if I find things in order, I will sign it (BBL draft) and wait for the document—the formal one—and I’ll send it to Congress,” the President said in a speech in Cagayan de Oro City the other night.
“Let us talk about your legitimate aspiration—a homeland for the Moro people. Let’s do that,” he said.
The BBL will define the basic structure of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous state in Mindanao, a key feature of the shift to a federal form of government being pushed by Mr. Duterte and his staunch allies.
“The only way that we can achieve peace in Mindanao is we go for federalism. That is what Murad and Nur are asking,” he said, referring to MILF chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim and Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari.
“And why wouldn’t we give it [a try] if it will save the country, prevent the breakage of Mindanao?” he said, vowing to lobby for BBL’s passage in Congress.
The last Congress failed to pass a similar proposal during the Aquino administration amid public outcry triggered by the clash between elite police forces and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in 2015.
“I will push for it in Congress. That’s the truth. I’m not joking with you,” Mr. Duterte said of BBL’s passage when he talked to Marawi evacuees in Iligan.
“On the third year [of my term], God willing, it will be there and you will see how we will build our country,” he stressed.
The President said he was in favor of giving the Moros their own federal state even as he urged them to reject the extremist ideology of the Maute terrorists, who have been battling government forces in Marawi since May 23.
“I’m in favor of what Murad is asking. Let us look for a solution. They want to carve out a territory; it’s OK with me,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I will give Nur (Misuari) what he wants. I will give the MILF [members] what they want,” he added.