PAGADIAN CITY: The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be crucial to the participation of the Philippines in the anticipated economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015.
“It is important for us to ensure the security and stability of Mindanao, because geographically, it is our gateway to our ASEAN neighbors,” said Undersecretary Jose Lorena of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
Lorena was addressing an assembly of local municipal and barangay leaders from Zamboanga del Sur at a public hearing and consultation staged by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL in this city on Friday.
“The success of the Bangsamoro peace process—through the enactment of the BBL—can bring us closer to that goal,” Lorena said.
Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the Bangsamoro aspiration is built around the ideals of peace and progress that is shared and enjoyed by all, regardless of one’s religion, ethnicity, and even political affiliation.
“We, the entire nation, all stand to gain from the peace agreement that our government has forged with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” she said. “When we achieve peace in the Bangsamoro, we will accelerate progress in an entire region whose growth has been stunted through four decades by armed conflict.”
This regional development, in turn, will be vital in boosting the national economy, according to Coronel-Ferrer.
The government chief negotiator also explained that collaborative programs and mechanisms are already being created and set in motion in order to support conflict-affected MILF communities towards a smooth transition into the Bangsamoro era.
The Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program (SBP), the socioeconomic development intervention jointly implemented by the government and the MILF, has been mobilized to improve the delivery of basic services (through health, education, and livelihood programs) to MILF communities.
The SBP is an initial dividend of peace launched in 2013 after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. However, under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed this year, socioeconomic development has been identified as a major component of the normalization process and will be undertaken for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the Bangsamoro. In particular, socioeconomic programs will be instituted to address the needs of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces members, internally displaced persons and poverty-stricken communities. PNA