President Rodrigo Roa Duterte vowed to support the creation of a genuine political entity for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

In a speech during the turn-over ceremony of the proposed draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Malacañang on Monday, President Duterte went beyond his prepared speech to express his commitment for the enactment of the bill as this will address historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

“I will support and husband this instrument as it goes in the legislation for its consideration,” Duterte, who hailed from Mindanao, said.

“There will be no objections of the provisions of all that is consistent with the constitution and aspirations of the Moro people.”

“I am for this, within the context of the Republic of the Philippines, there shall be a Bangsamoro country,” he vowed.

The President said the event “marks a new milestone in our history that stand as proof of our resolve to set aside our differences and stand united to achieve a common goal of peace.”

The BBL is part of the process to implement the political track of the peace deal – Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro – signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

The 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has formally submitted to the President the enhance draft of the basic law which aims to provide a genuine political power for the Bangsamoro to govern over their ancestral lands in Mindanao.

This is the second submission after the previous congress failed to pass the BBL.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel earlier said that they aim to enact the bill within the year.

The passage of the BBL will signal the creation of a new Bangsamoro government with a parliamentary-form structure to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The Bangsamoro Transition Authority will manage the new autonomous region.

President Duterte said the passage of the bill “is a significant step forward in our quest to end centuries of hatred, mistrust, and injustice that caused and affected the lives of millions of Filipinos.”

“The draft BBL embodies our shared aspiration of a peaceful, orderly and harmonious nation after decades of armed struggle and violence, we will come up with a constitutionally consistent legal instrument that will lay the foundation for establishing the real and lasting peace in Mindanao.”

The President emphasized that the government is mandated to establish a genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao under the current constitution.

“The proposed BBL puts into life and spirit the constitutional mandate provided in the 1987 constitution for the establishment of a truly autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

“This paves the way for meeting the just aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination, and that is consistent and reflective of the distinct historical cultural heritage and economic and social structures common to the people residing in the Bangsamoro,” he added.

“The draft bill jointly written by our Muslim, Christian, Lumad brothers and sisters shall give rise to a genuine autonomous region as well as to bring forth healing and reconciliation to the historical injustices commitment against the Bangsamoro people,” Duterte said.

“Indeed the entire country will benefit from it along with the region of the Bangsamoro people. May this new entity be marked by good governance, equitable sharing of wealth and generation of revenue, and normalize stable environment.”

For his part, presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza urged the public to support the process “in realizing the aspirations of the Bangsamoro”

“Be with us still as we continue to surmount the more important challenges that we face in bringing peace and development in the land,” he said.

“We have gone this far, different governments in the past have built the foundations, layer upon layer, that has brought us today to where we are.”

MILF chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad expressed his appreciation to Dureza “for recommending to the President the certifying of the BBL as an urgent bill during his endorsement to congress.”

He said the MILF has high hopes for the President to “shepherd the passage of this law, and see through the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.”

“Mr. President, we hear you speak the historical injustice committed against our people and we marvel at the ease which you narrate the historical basis of our cause, today at a crucial moment in our history, you have been given the unique privilege of correcting that historical injustice by entrenching the aspiration of our people through the enactment of this Bangsamoro Basic Law.

BTC Chair Ghadzali Jaafar believed that under the Duterte administration, “we would see the dawning of the establishment of the government in Bangsamoro homeland, which they truly deserved.”

Murad bats that the BBL will serve as the antidote to the growing concerns over violent extremism, particularly in Mindanao.

“We watched at the utter disgust over the distractions in Marawi City that violent extremism has inflicted,” he said.

“The danger of violent extremism is that it feeds over the frustration of our people and take over the narrative of historical injustices so that it can justify the violent ideology in which reality is never linked to aspiration of our people,” he said.

But because it exploits the narrative of historical injustice, it is important to address legitimate grievances and correct historical injustice so that it will be denied any semblance of legitimacy,” he added.###