MAKATI CITY – The influential Makati Business Club (MBC) is hopeful Congress will pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and expressed willingness to help government in its implementation.

“It’s very timely… we really want to understand in what ways the business community can help,” MBC Chair Edgar O. Chua said in a roundtable discussion the group organized in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Friday.

Chua said the business community also wants to find out what refinements have been made on the proposed law since it failed to pass in the previous Congress. “We need to understand how refinements have been made from the previous Bangsamoro Basic Law to the new one, which hopefully will pass the Congress and get the approval very soon,” he said.

In his presentation, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus G. Dureza said the business community can help government by ensuring that peace and development are done simultaneously. “The President said that peace and development should not come one after the other. The work for peace and the work for development must come hand in hand,” he said.

Dureza cited how a group of investors worked with a local Muslim leader to establish a thriving agricultural business in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao when it was still a conflict hot spot. The development prompted the local armed groups to put down their arms and take jobs in the plantation, instead.

At the same time, Dureza said peace cannot be achieved overnight and must be done one step at a time. “We have been working for peace and people thought that this can be done overnight. No. Building peace is one step at a time. We are laying the bricks of foundation slowly but surely,” he said.

He encouraged the business sector to bring opportunities in the Bangsamoro areas to catalyze peace and progress.

“That’s why we call on the business community to invest in these areas … There will be risks but the gains are higher,” he said.

Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil A. Tan was also present during the meeting to give updates on the Peace Process, while BTC commissioners Jose I. Lorena and Omar C. Sema provided information about the proposed law.

The passage of the BBL is part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in 2014 by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It aims to address the historical injustices committed against the Moro people and provide them with genuine autonomy.