Esperon: Violent extremism may ensue if Congress fails to pass BBL
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Tuesday warned of a looming “violent extremism and radicalization” in Mindanao if Congress fails to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
At the continuation of the Senate hearing on the BBL, Esperon underscored the “positive” national security implications of the immediate passage of the measure.
“The threat of violent extremism and radicalization looms ever larger if its socio-economic, political and cultural drivers are not addressed,” he said.
In Mindanao, Esperon said, a “complex mix of grievances” resulting from diminution of ancestral homelands, poverty and underdevelopment, marginalization and poor governance, are the top priorities that must be addressed.
“The passage of the BBL is arguably the most effective legislative response to these grievances,” he said.
The BBL, he said, would allow the peaceful transition of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from an armed group to a “legitimate political actors competing in fair and free elections.”
Esperon said the political and economic developments in the region would also lead to the settlement of one of the long-standing armed conflicts in the country, which would also allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to focus more on external security.
Failure to pass the BBL, on the other hand, might result in the exact opposite— a “grimmer picture that’s already taking form” because of continuous delay of its passage and the Moro people, he said, are beginning to lose faith in the peace process.
He said recent developments such as the 2016 Davao bombings and the 2017 Marawi City siege were indicators of growing discontent among members of the Moro community.
While pushing for the BBL, Esperon urged Congress not to create a command that would be under the control of the autonomous region.
He said splitting Southern command into two— eastern and western commands — would be enough to address the problem in the region.
“In this kind of structure, I believe that the armed forces would be better able to serve the purposes of defense and security without becoming a potential instrument of the leaders or of personalities in an area for their own interests,” said Esperon .
“I believe that the eastern command and the western command… are enough and sufficient. And if there need be, we can create other forces or other task forces in the likes of Joint Task Force Zamboanga, Joint Task Force. We could be more flexible in that kind of set up,” he added. /jpv
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