Duterte presses Congress anew to pass BBL
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said that he was “waiting” for Congress to act on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) so that the administration’s campaign for a federal form of government could move forward.
Mr. Duterte reiterated that the passage of the draft BBL was a “personal commitment” that he made to the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had been fighting for decades for a Bangsamoro homeland in central Mindanao.
“We are waiting for the BBL. Actually, it’s a commitment. That’s the centerpiece of my campaign, actually it was Mindanao,” the President said.
“Because if you are not — if you are not going to fix it, I said, there is trouble. And I have been very frank with you. Ever since (2016 election) campaign, I see that there’s a looming of dark clouds also that would involve the Moro of Mindanao,” he added.
The military commander who oversaw the five-month fighting in Marawi City also made a fresh pitch for the passage of the proposed BBL, saying it could prevent the resurgence of “violent extremism” in Mindanao.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the Western Mindanao Command, said that terrorists linked to the Islamic State (IS) exploited the “feelings of hopelessness and frustration.”
“The passage of the proposed BBL will negate the frustrations of the IS members,” Galvez said.
“If the proposed BBL and the government were able to deliver and address the Bangsamoro question squarely, I believe there is a chance that we can accelerate our fight against the IS,” Galvez said at the recent Eisenhower Fellows Annual Meeting.
“But if the draft BBL will not be passed definitely it will create a lot of emotions,” Galvez said, stressing that IS “will” exploit such a situation.
The proposed BBL defines the basic structure of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous state in Mindanao, a key feature of the federal form of government being pushed by Mr. Duterte and his allies.
“That is really my commitment. I gave them my word. Otherwise, if you don’t want to believe … then be prepared for a fractured Mindanao,” he added.
The President asked the MILF for “patience,” although he admitted that he had no timeline for the bill’s passage.
The House leadership’s version, which was based on the draft submitted by Malacañang, was filed on Sept. 26 and was sponsored by 98 lawmakers led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez. —With a report from Vince F. Nonato
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