GMA News Online – Bongbong wants comprehensive peace process, says BBL needs to be improved

By Amita O. Legaspi | GMA News Online

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Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday expressed his commitment to a comprehensive peace process as he reiterated his stance that the pending Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) needs to be improved.

In a press statement, Marcos urged the government not to blink in the peace process effort and make it a strong deterrent to armed encounters pending the forging of a final peace agreement.

“Whatever happens, we must continue the peace process because the alternative is war. If we do not continue the peace process, if we do not come to some kind of agreement, we will have a Mamasapano (clash) every week, every month, every day,” he said.

Forty-four policemen were killed on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, when an operation to arrest two terrorist targets resulted in an encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace agreement with the government.

Congress has temporarily stopped the deliberation on the BBL following the clash.

President Benigno Aquino III has reportedly asked the members of the House of Representatives not to dilute the BBL too much.

Although Aquino has yet to meet with senators regarding the BBL, some senators have already said that the proposed legislation, which will embody the peace agreement, will not be watered down although it will definitely undergo close scrutiny and modification.

Marcos said that although the proposed BBL is being carefully studied by the Senate committee on local government, which he heads, the measure is “merely part of the peace process and what the terrible Mamasapano tragedy has brought out is very clearly that it is not the only part of the peace process.”

He said the creation of the Bangsamoro government, perhaps, would be many steps in the direction of peace, but it will not bring the country to the end it wanted.

“What we need to think about are things like what are the main complaints in Muslim Mindanao [and] why has there even been a secessionist movement that was still in the time of the Spanish, the Americans, and the time of every single president that has sat in that position,” Marcos said.

He said that soon after the Tripoli Agreement was signed, massive development was given to Mindanao to convince the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to abandon rebellion and return to the folds of the society.

“Instead of going to war, instead of going to the hills, those fighters from then the MNLF could find decent jobs, could send their children to school, have a decent living so that they can feed their families, house and clothe their families. And that is what every single Filipino wants and for that matter that is what every single person wants and that is something we have to address,” he said.

Marcos has yet to announce when the Senate will resume its hearing on BBL, which was suspended following the Mamasapano clash.

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