Senators press approval of BBL

Published January 26, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola

Marawi City, Lanao del Sur – Amid the ongoing debates on Charter change and federalism, six senators have maintained that the immediate passage of the Bangsamaro Basic Law (BBL) will be able to solve the problem of violent extremism in Mindanao

Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito, Riza Hontiveros and Cynthia Villar visited “ground zero” here to personally see the extent of the damage wrought by Muslim extremists on the city. Except for Angara, the senators were here for the first time since the war broke out.

Seeing the extent of destruction, the six senators pressed the need for the approval of the BBL, which, they said, presents the best solution to prevent the resurgence of such extremism.

Zubiri, chair of the Senate subcommittee on BBL, said the measure will provide Moro people with “self-autonomy” to help them develop a region “where they can actually nurture their culture and tradition.”

Aquino, for his part, said that the government should take advantage of the huge support that the BBL was getting both from the administration’s allies and the opposition.

“I think in this case that we have a commonality, that we have something to all agree about. I know this is a priority also of Congress and even of the Executive, President Duterte had mentioned this, so it’s one of those times. This is rare, so let’s take this opportunity to come up with a BBL,” he told reporters.

Ejercito said the BBL would “very much” help in reducing extremists by addressing the issues that the groups use to encourage residents to take arms against the government.

Villar echoed Ejercito’s belief as she said the Marawi siege should serve as a lesson “on what will happen if the government is not responsive to the needs of the people.”

The legislators also said the proposed BBL, if enacted into law, would also contribute to the recovery of Marawi City as the proposed Bangsamoro Autonmous Region will have the authority over its finances thru the block grant from the national government.

Members of the Upper Chamber were in Mindanao for the Senate hearing on the proposed BBL.

During the public hearing held at the Mindanao State University here, senators promised residents that they will prioritize the approval of the measure that was based on proposals by presented by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The proposed BBL would repeal the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) whose regions will be joined by some municipalities in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte provinces, as well Cotabato City and Isabela City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.