Malacañang on Wednesday appealed to lawmakers who remain skeptical of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to put themselves in the shoes of the people in Mindanao in order for them to understand what the controversial measure aims to achieve.
Its spokesman Edwin Lacierda advised the lawmakers to visit Mindanao and directly ask the people who are most affected by the government’s peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“It’s owing to the fact that we are here in Manila. We don’t see the kind of radical shift that happens in those people who are in those conflict areas,” Lacierda said when asked about senators being unimpressed by the decommissioning of 145 MILF fighters on Tuesday.
“You may not need to reside there but you may want to see the hopes and see why these people are very hopeful,” he added.
Lacierda pointed out that the laying down of arms was a “radical shift” for the MILF members “who have lived 20 to 30 years of their lives fighting.”
He said that those living in Metro Manila do not understand the importance of the act of decommissioning since they do not live in a conflict area where there is a threat of violence.
“We are not mindful of the perspective because we do not grow up in conflict. But in conflict areas… you always have a firearm with you,” Lacierda added.
“In and of itself, it’s a powerful symbol that they are willing to participate in the peace process, that they are willing to stake their future in this peace process for the future of their generation and for peace and security in Muslim Mindanao,” Lacierda added.
Earlier, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that while the initial decommissioning and handover of weapons was a good confidence-building move, it would not have a big impact on the Senate’s decision to reject the draft BBL at the committee level
Lacierda said the Aquino administration continues to push for the passage of the BBL.
“We continue to be hopeful that the BBL will be enacted,” he added. “We hope the legislators would see that, that there is a continuing dream and aspiration from our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Lacierda said they will have to work on a shorter timeframe for preparations for a plebiscite and synchronization of elections in 2016.
“That is why we need to hasten the [capacity-] building of our Muslim brothers…The burden is on all of us stakeholders of peace, fast forward… to peace. All of us have a stake. Congress, yes. Congress is there to legislate the law. It’s part of [its]mandate,” he added.
“But for all of us who have a stake [in]peace, I think it’s incumbent [for]all us to also engage our legislators and to tell them why we believe that the BBL is the framework for peace and development in Muslim Mindanao,” Lacierda said.