By Ellson A. Quismorio
A party list congresswoman is hoping the recently passed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will convince radical groups in Mindanao to lay down their arms.
Anak Mindanao Party-List Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan was referring to the organizations like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and even those linked to the Maute who took over Marawi City last year.
“We’re hoping it would give them an idea that their government is sincere enough to really give them peace and development in their areas. We’re hoping that they’ll have that in mind once BBL is passed into law,” said Sangcopan, who is a vice chairperson of the House Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Committee.
On Wednesday, the House passed a substitute bill on the BBL on third and final reading.
Serving as reference bill was Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s House Bill (HB) No. 6475, which was earlier adopted by a tri-committee that was handling all BBL-related measures filed in the 17th Congress.
The Peace, Reconciliation and Unity panel is one of these committees, the other two being the Local Government and Muslim Affairs Committees.
The Senate passed its own version of the BBL before dawn Thursday, setting up the Bicameral conference committee where the congressmen and senators will try to come up with the final measure.
Sangcopan said that with the BBL, there’s a chance the decades-long insurgency in Mindanao might end peacefully.
“They could [choose to support BBL]…we’re hoping through the passage of the BBL they will see the sincerity of their government. Baka mag-expect tayo na mismo sila ang magbitaw, mag kusa (We might expect that they would volunteer to lay down their arms),” she said.
The BBL is the enabling law of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and secessionist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It seeks to establish the Bangsamoro juridical entity, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The measure was aggressively pushed by the previous Aquino administration, but its plethora of unconstitutional provisions coupled by the January 2015 Mamasapano, Maguindanao siege doomed its passage.