MANILA — The Aquino administration will continue to push for the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite questions about it following the Mamasapano incident as well as proposals for its revision.
In a briefing Tuesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the bid for the BBL’s approval is not solely political in nature but for the achievement of long-term peace.
”Ang paglaban natin ay isang prinsipyo na mahalaga rin sa kinabukasan ng ating buong bansa (What we’re fighting for is a principle that is important for the country’s future),” he said.
Coloma said what is important this time is for the goal for an enduring peace in a big part of the country to be pursued especially since it has attracted support from other countries.
He said what is happening in the on-going peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is not unique for the Philippines that is why the government continues to face the challenges.
He said any revisions by Congress on the proposed BBL is but a natural political process and stressed that this is the reason why the executive department continues to coordinate with the law makers especially after recent developments.
”Kaya inaasahan naman natin na ito ay kikilalanin at nauunawaan din ng lahat ng mga panig na mayroong sangkot dito sa prosesong pangkapayapaan (We expect that they will also take into consideration and understand that this also involves a peace process,” he said.
The Aquino government submitted to Congress a draft BBL in September 2014 after representatives of the government’s peace panel and the MILF signed in March 2014 the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The agreement is targeted to provide political stability and economic growth in what is currently called the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but will be called Autonomous Government of Bangsamoro once the new political entity is in place in 2016.
Under the agreement, the government and the MILF will have to share the revenues from the resource-rich region as well as on governmental power in the area.
However, several lawmakers have raised questions on the BBL following a “misencournter” between members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) and MILF fighters last Jan. 25 where 44 members of the police’s elite group died.
The SAF members were on a mission to serve the arrest warrants of two suspected terrorists – Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman and Malasian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and who is being hunted by the US.
The government said Marwan, who has a USD 5 million bounty, was killed during the said operation.