MANILA—Malacanang appealed to the public on Friday not to sow unrest and fear following the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the 16h Congress.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the appeal in reaction to reports that fighting might erupt in Mindanao after both Houses of Congress adjourned last Wednesday without passing BBL.
”Instead of fear and unrest, we should prevail justice and serenity because it is a time of peace,” Coloma said in a Radio RMN interview.
Coloma said the non-passage of the BBL was part of democracy where legislators can express and decide not to agree with Malacanang’s proposed bill.
Despite the failure of both the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass the BBL, Coloma said the government is determined to continue and pursue the peace process with the rebel groups, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
”It will not help if we will dwell on speculations,” Coloma said, adding that even MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal has expressed commitment to the peace process.
”They (MILF) are also determined to pursue this (peace process) because their objective is peace,” Coloma said.
In the Senate, the Committee on Local Government headed by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has submitted a substitute bill entitled Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) which, he claimed, was based on the Constitution.
However, the Senate still failed to finish the period of interpellation, with Senate President Franklin Drilon blaming the delay to the Jan. 25, 2015 Mamasapano encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF) and the Moro rebels, including fighters from the MILF.
The Senate spent six public hearings and five executive sessions in investigating the Mamasapano incident that left 44 SAF troopers, 23 MILF fighters and five civilians dead.
At the House of Representatives, the lack of quorum killed the BBL, a codification of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014.
Drilon said that although they were not able to pass BLBAR, the “CAB is not yet dead,” adding that the next administration can use the peace agreement to pursue the peace talks with the Moro rebels in Mindanao.