By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Monday that her “yes’’ vote on a bicameral conference report is a recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the Bangamoro people.
“It is the legislative expression of our commitment to the peace process. The enactment of the ‘Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’ is a good place to continue this long and overdue journey to a lasting and dignified peace,’’ she said in explaining her affirmative vote on the bicameral conference report.
The report was submitted by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, chairman of the Senate BBL sub-committee.
The BBL was ratified yesterday morning by the 24-member Senate at the opening of the third regular session of the 17th Congress hours before the scheduled State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte in joint session with the House of Representatives in Quezon city.
“This Act took an incredibly long, tricky, and arduous road. At the onset, at its helm, is a history of struggle that precedes all of us. A history of a region that is filled with narratives of violence and oppression. A region whose roads are paved with hunger, chaos, and countless deaths,’’ she said.
“But with the grace of Allah, here we all are. The entire process we went through—the deliberations on the bill, the public hearings in Mindanao, the arguments over provision per provision—was tedious and at times, frustrating. That is why I salute all my fellow legislators, the peace advocates, the OPAPP (Office of the President for the Peace Proscess), the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, whose steadfast commitment to the process is unparalleled. The ratification today is a testament to our commitment to the democratic process. It is a sign that the system works. That all we needed was a shared and unwavering belief in justice and that all roads lead to peace,’’ she stressed.
“The BBL is not our achievement. It is the success story of our Moro brothers and sisters who have been fighting relentlessly for what rightfully belongs to them and their children. And that is life and a future where they don’t have to raise their children in evacuation centers, where they can sleep at night without waking up to the ripping sound of firefights and explosions, where their farmers and fisherfolks can have a just share in their lands, waters, and resources. They earned it, Mr. President. The end of strife and the beginning of a simple, comfortable life of providing for their family, seeing their children play, go to school, and grow up to pursue their dreams,’’ she emphasized.
“With the enactment of this bill carries with it our collective hope to see and realize Bangsamoro, a region that is living in harmony and peace. A place that will not be anymore used as a ruse for unnecessary militarization and unending Martial rule,’’ she added.