The potential of the youth to contribute toward building lasting peace in the country should not be underestimated, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said.
Marcos, Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, stressed this message on Tuesday to students of Assumption College in Makati, where he spoke about the proposed Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) and answered questions in an open forum.
BLBAR is the substitute bill Marcos crafted in lieu of the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) seeking to implement the government’s peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The senator was invited by the school to speak about his substitute bill in connection with Assumption’s annual celebration of Peace Week.
When asked how students can contribute to building a culture of peace in the Philippines, Marcos replied: “At the very least, by understanding.”
“I think as students, you do your job to learn. And the more you learn, the more you will understand. And that way you can actually express an opinion that will guide us in what we do---that is very, very important,” Marcos said.
He stressed that the fighting that goes on in Mindanao concerns not only Mindanao but the entire Philippines as well.
To illustrate his point, the senator recalled how, during his stint as Ilocos Norte governor, a bomb blast in Basilan led to the cancellation of participants in an international event that he was organizing. Not even his assurance that Basilan is farther from Ilocos Norte than Hong Kong could convince the participants to reconsider their decision to cancel, said Marcos.
This is why peace in Mindanao should concern all Filipinos, he said. “This is how it affects us: our tourism is affected; our businesses are affected. It is very important that people at the very least understand what we are trying to do,” Marcos said.
He added it is important that the youth to be interested in issues of national importance such as the proposed BLBAR.
Marcos recalled that when BBL was first referred to his committee in the Senate, there was scant public attention on the issue until the Mamasapano tragedy where 44 Special Action Force commandos lost their lives.
“I believe that their sacrifice was to bring to the top of the minds of all Filipino citizens what is happening in Muslim Mindanao and what we in the government are trying to do,” Marcos said.
However, Marcos said efforts to find lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao will not succeed unless these are supported by the entire Filipino nation.
“We cannot do this without the support of the citizenry. And the first part of gaining that support will be through understanding,” he said.
This, said Marcos, is the reason why he has been accepting invitations from schools, business groups and other interested sectors to speak about the proposed law on Bangsamoro.