PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has ordered officials to provide more aid to “Bangsamoro” areas as part of the government’s commitment to peace despite its failure to deliver the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In an interview following the US-Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in California, the President revealed that the non-passage of the controversial measure will not deter them from injecting fresh funding and support projects through the Sajahatra
Bangsamoro Program that was launched in 2013 to provide assistance to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) communities and other select beneficiaries.
“I gave an order to maximize what we call peace dividends… Sajahatra comes to mind. It involves the training we provide to help the fighter become a productive citizen,” Aquino said.
Under the Terms of Reference of the program, “the GPH (government of the Philippines) shall provide funding requirements for Sajahatra Bangsamoro.”
The agreement was an offshoot of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed in 2012.
The deal, forged between Aquino and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim, aimed to jumpstart “the initial dividends of peace.”
Aquino himself disclosed that billions had been pledged for the program.
He said that investments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) dramatically rose to P3.9 billion in 2014 from a measly P87.9 million in 2010.
“For the very first time in the ARMM, there was an international business conference in Tawi-Tawi. The result? Four hundred businessmen from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Japan came. The investment pledges were close to a billion pesos just for Tawi-Tawi,” the President claimed.
“So we are doing everything we can for the majority there to feel substantial change in those areas which I want fast tracked. If there are ongoing (projects) or the need for additional ones, we will do it,” he stressed.
Aquino said he sees no reason why the next administration would not work for the passage of the BBL, stressing that his successor will not “start from scratch.”
“I believe that whoever will replace me would make this (BBL) the first agenda… There is no reason why it will not be passed into law in the next administration,” added the President.