Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gov’t to pursue BBL passage, won’t give up on goal of Bangsamoro peace, progress

From the Website of OPPAP

Gov’t to pursue BBL passage, won’t give up on goal of Bangsamoro peace, progress

Manila – While there is a growing serious concern from stakeholders in the Bangsamoro peace process over the delay in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the government is committed to continue its relentless efforts to secure its enactment into law as soon as possible, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said yesterday.

Deles stressed the government and other stakeholders in the Bangsamoro peace process “cannot afford to go back to square one” and remain firm in its goal to see the BBL passed into law within the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“We’re not giving up. Senators have voiced (their opinion) that they hope to finish the interpellation before Congress goes to recess this October. The timetable for its passage still exists,” Deles told media people after attending the hearings in the House of Representatives for the OPAPP’s proposed budget for 2016.

“The time is getting really tight and if we do give up, we could say that the whole legislation is really dead. So, the agency continues to engage both houses of Congress in deliberating and finishing the interpellations of the proposed substitute bills,” she said.

“We all know the dynamics of the Congress. We are still positive that we can pass this law before the end of this administration. This is the farthest we have ever gone in the peace process,” Deles added.

The Senate and House leaderships had earlier committed to pass the BBL before the two chambers go on recess this October prior to the filing of certificates of candidacies for the 2016 elections. However, both chambers are still in the period of interpellations as of today because of delays in the legislative mill, mainly the lack of quorum in the House and the intense questioning by senators on the provisions of the bill during floor deliberations.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon had already announced that they agreed to move the deadline for the passage of the BBL to December 16 this year.

Bangsamoro peace process to continue bearing fruits

In a meeting with the country’s leading business groups and chambers on September 30, Deles gave strong value to the importance of having a candid dialogue on the status of the BBL with concerned sectors of Philippine society “in the face of often-mixed and confusing messaging coming out of Philippine media at this time.”

“We cannot gloss over the fact that the BBL, and the Bangsamoro peace process with it, has been hit very badly in the aftermath of the Mamasapano tragedy. [Y]ou all know that our timeline has become a moving target since February and we are now working within the narrowest window of opportunity,” Deles said at a forum hosted by the Makati Business Club.

In addition to the serious delay caused by the Mamasapano incident on the congressional deliberations on the BBL, she said she considers the upcoming elections as posing a different threat to the passage of the bill.
“2016 partisan interests and agenda are already out there fighting tooth and nail to claim center stage, which does not brook well for a law that is best deliberated with an eye not so much besotted with present-day, transient, parochial interests but rather training its gaze further to consider the lessons of history and the omens of prophecy,” the peace process chief noted.

Despite the complications, Deles said the government remains firm in its resolve that the Bangsamoro peace process and the accompanying legislative track would bear fruits for Filipinos and the entire nation as it would give a solid foundation for the just and lasting peace everyone wants to see happen in Mindanao and the rest of the nation.

“No, we are not giving up.  This is the prevailing sentiment for the government and the MILF panels, as well as our local and international peace partners in this historic endeavor for peace.”

“We ask that you continue to accompany the peace process in ensuring that this dream will not dry up. Let us together make sure it will flourish, flower, and bear fruit—fruits that our children can enjoy in abundance, in a country that knows no war and tolerates no injustice; a country that is peaceful, harmonious, and progressive; a country that has room enough for all its people and all their aspirations.”

MILF not going back to war

In his Eid’l Adha message, MILF chair Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim made a commitment that his group would remain committed and a partner of the government in pursuing the peace process.

Murad also expressed the group’s belief that Congress would eventually pass a BBL that reflects the spirit and intentions of the CAB.

“With the unwavering commitment of the President and his allies in the administration, coupled with the strong support of the international community, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OlC), including the peace loving peoples of the country and the world and most of all our complete trust in the Oneness and Justness of Allah (SVW), we remain optimistic,” Murad stressed.

“The gains of the peace process are much wider and more comprehensive. What is of prime importance is the preservation and sustenance of the achievements of the struggle and the Bangsamoro people in the peace process,” he added.

Deles also echoed Murad’s commitment and said that it was very unlikely that the MILF would go back to war despite delays in the passage of the BBL.

“[The government and the MILF] have signed agreements and the recent decommissioning showed their sincerity in the peace talks. The MILF is doing their part in keeping the trust to the government and now we should also do our part in the peace process,” Deles said.

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