ISABELA CITY, Basilan – The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and its eventual ratification will redound to a more peaceful Mindanao as this will address the root causes of the armed conflict, a top military commander here said.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, noted the provisions of the BBL addresses the underlying factors that breed terrorism in southern Philippines.
“The enactment of the BBL will significantly help in lowering the threat of extremism and terrorism, particularly the Abu-Sayyaf,” Galvez, who is overseeing the government’s campaign against terrorist groups in the island.
He said the terror groups will now find it hard to recruit new members and carry out attacks, since the implementation of the BBL answers the “issues” of the Bangsamoro people.
“Right now, the terror groups are trying to change the narrative of the conflict in Mindanao,” he said, adding that the extremists are taking advantage of the frustrations of the Bangsamoro people to join in their violent movement.
Galvez said the military fully supports the Duterte administration’s peace agenda, particularly the implementation of the peace agreements the government has signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
He earlier noted, “The outcome of the peace process has a direct correlation with our problem on terrorism.”
His statement came as both houses of Congress are conducting a series of public hearings in Mindanao for the proposed bill.
Senators led by Juan Migual Zubiri, who chairs the subcommittee on the BBL, yesterday went to the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi and the city of Zamboanga for public consultations.
During the public hearing here, Zubiri emphasized the implementation of the BBL will help in the campaign against terrorism.
“They (security forces) are the ones who want peace more than all of us. It is them who also wish that the BBL be achieved,” he said.
Basilan governor Hadjiman “Jim” S. Hataman-Saliman said there is a need to fully address violent extremism in his province.
“We have a problem on terrorism. We experienced terrorism since 1991. Kaya sana habang we are discussing the BBL, let’s free Basilan and other areas in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) from terrorism,” he said.
The island province is the birthplace of the notorious Abu-Sayyaf group in the early 90s. It led some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks, such as the bombing of a passenger ferryboat that left hundreds of people killed, kidnapping of foreign tourists, extortions, and beheadings.
For the senators who were present during the hearing, the BBL will provide fiscal autonomy, which will help address the threat of violent extremism by giving the Moro people greater opportunity for development over their ancestral lands.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said the senators have a “solid” support to enact the bill.
Senators Sonny Angara, Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian, and JV Ejercito agreed that the implementation of BBL would bring the much-needed economic boost and social development in the Moro-dominated areas.
To make the BBL successful, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza challenged the Moro people to take an active role in the peacebuilding process.
“The responsibility is on the people. Ang pagbabago ay hindi lang sa batas pero sa sarili natin,” he emphasized.
The Senate is determined to pass the proposed law by March 22, according to Zubiri, to give a legal foundation for the creation of a new Bangsamoro region that will replace the ARMM. ###