President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday expressed confidence that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would eventually get past Congress.
The President made the statement in a speech in Japan where he is now on a state visit.
“We are determined to get the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed in Congress, which will be a major step in freeing thousands of our countrymen from the shackles of conflict and in attaining lasting peace and prosperity in the autonomous region,” Aquino said.
The BBL, which will embody a peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was passed by the House ad hoc committee on the BBL last week and is undergoing plenary discussion.
Its counterpart bill in Senate, however, hit a snag Wednesday after the Senate Committee on Local Government headed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. disapproved the draft law.
Meanwhile, Aquino expressed appreciation for Japan’s continuous support for the peace process in Mindanao in southern Philippines, where the MILF and other rebel groups are active.
He said the signing of Mindanao peace deal was made possible with the help of “our gracious and faithful ally, Japan, whose commitment to peace and security really shone through.”
Aquino thanked Tokyo for providing the venue of talks between him and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim during the early stages of the peace process.
“My very first meeting with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front happened because Japan opened its doors to us on very, very short notice. They provided an environment where both sides could see the sincerity of their dialogue partners. This was a breakthrough in the peace process, which we thought had reached a deadlock,” he said.
Officials were also not bothered by the Senate committee’s rejection of the draft BBL.
“The aim of Senator Marcos to craft a BBL for the good of all is laudable. We also desire this, that’s why we conducted 553 consultation sessions with various sectors that have a stake in the peace process,” Teresita Deles, Aquino’s adviser on the peace process, told The Manila Times.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., who is with the President in Japan, said they will wait for the action of the Senate as a whole before making a comment on the Marcos committee thumbing down the BBL.