Substitute BBL to address security concerns raised by retired generals

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Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, today said one of the areas his substitute bill to the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law will address are the serious security warning flags raised by retired military and police officers.

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Marcos rejected the draft BBL,
saying while it was meant to achieve lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao its failure to address the concerns of major stakeholders, constitutional infirmities, and unclear provisions could only lead to more bloodshed.

Instead, Marcos said he is preparing a substitute bill to address the
flaws of the draft BBL that they have identified in the hearings and
consultations his committee had conducted.

“We intend to incorporate in the substitute bill the inputs of our
retired generals. Many of them have a wealth of personal knowledge and experience as veterans in the war against insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao,” Marcos said.

“They are the ones who risked their lives in saving Mindanao from
separating from our Republic. So when they point to danger signs in
the draft BBL we should listen,” he added.

The Association of General and Flag Officers  led by Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan (ret.), told the committee that while BBL is touted as an instrument of peace, the draft bill in its present form may not prove to be that instrument. Adan noted that the draft BBL “contains provisions which can create more problems that it can solve” but lacking in provision that would ensure its workability.

“It can lead to the dismemberment of our country,” Adan warned.

Among others, the AGFO suggested the following changes in the draft BBL:

BBL should include a provision explicitly stating that the Bangsamoro or the MILF renounces forever its avowed separatist policy and goal of independence and pledges to remain under or be a part of the Republic of the Philippines.

·The central government shall exercise authority and
jurisdiction over defense and security, both internal and external.

·The provision that allows the creation of the AFP Bangsamoro
Command should be deleted.

· There should be no Bangsamoro Police. Instead the present
ARMM Regional Police should be reconstituted to become the Bangsamoro
Region Police Office under the Philippine National Police.

·The normalization aspect of the peace agreement, instead of
being a mere annex to the Framework Agreement should be included as a
major provision of the BBL.

·Disarmament, demobilization and re-integration should be
carried out in a process that has definite timelines. The MILF armed
component must disarm and turn in all their weapons on a fixed date.

·All provisions on re-deployment of Armed Forces should be
omitted or repealed.

·The requirement to establish coordination protocols for the
movement of AFP in Bangsamoro area should be deleted.

·The provision in the Normalization Annex of the FAB that the
AFP is to retain only such installations as are necessary for national
defense and security should be removed.

Adan stressed that while the MILF is asking the government for trust, the MILF should also show it can be trusted. He noted that the tragic Mamasapano incident had casted doubts on the claim of the MILF that they should be trusted.

Refusing to be railroaded in passing the draft BBL by June 11, Marcos vowed instead to craft a substitute bill that is inclusive and would achieve the goal of bringing lasting peace in Mindanao.

Marcos said this is one way to ensure the ultimate sacrifice of the 44
Special Action Force commandos who perished in the Mamasapano clash would not be in vain.

“I will do the right thing,” Marcos said.

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