ROME, Italy (PNA)—President Aquino expressed high hopes that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed into law within or even after his administration which will pave the way for attaining a lasting peace in Mindanao.
In an interview Friday with the Philippine press here, the President was asked about his views on the delays being encountered by the BBL in Congress especially now that the country gears towards election next year. The lack of quorum is still a problem in Congress.
The President said he doesn’t think that there is a deliberate attempt to destroy the chances of the BBL being passed in the legislature although he said there are some who are trying to derail it.
“At the end of the day, next year we face elections,” he said in the interview.
“Even at the point that we were negotiating, I did say that the earlier we craft this proposed measure, and farther away from both the budget and next year’s elections, the better the chances of passing it in a timely manner and enabling the transition authority to demonstrate the difference of their governance.”
Despite the snag in Congress, he expressed confidence that there is still a very strong push that can be made but passing the BBL should happen sooner rather than later.
“I think the movement towards having the BBL in its present form or with a little modification is really just a question of time. It will happen,” he said.
“Pero ulitin ko nga, hindi naman personal kong monumento ito… at sigurado akong mangyayari ito. Kailan mangyayari? Sana sa panahon ko, pero kung hindi, palagay ko inevitable na magkakaroon tayo ng ganyang batas (But I repeat, this is not my personal monument… and I’m sure it will happen. When? I hope in my time, but if not, I think it’s inevitable that we will have a law like BBL).”
The Mindanao peace process was also a major topic during his meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi last Wednesday.
He briefed the Italian leaders on his administration’s thrust towards economic inclusivity to discourage rebellion and extremism in the south.
The Philippines doesn’t have the problem of radicalization that exists in other parts of the world although it has concerns on the bandit group Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao.
According to the President, he also emphasized the ongoing confidence-building partnership between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) aimed at seeking a real solution to the Muslim separatism.
Both the Italian President and the Prime Minister expressed their support for the Philippines’ pursuit of peace, the President said.
The EU has been supporting the International Monitoring Team and is also a participant in the Mindanao Trust Fund.
The Italian government in particular is assisting the Philippines through the Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program.
There are about 53,000 beneficiary families in the provinces of Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 and Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in ARMM under the program, the President said.
To date, the initiative has irrigated 1,500 hectares of lands, installed 80 potable water systems, and built 10 units of warehouse and 54,000 square meters multipurpose drying pavements.
Also, 35,000 hectares of farms were cultivated through crop diversification, and capacitated 25 local government units (LGUs) in planning and implementation.
The Italian development program also trained 87 farmer organizations on agri-enterprise development, he noted. (PNA)
Editor’s note: Italics are Philippine Canadian Inquirer’s.