The government’s top peace adviser has admitted that pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may be “unpopular” but the measure still needs to be passed if only to ensure lasting peace in war-torn provinces in Mindanao.
Teresita Quintos-Deles, apparently reproaching majority of lawmakers who seemed to have withdrawn support for the BBL, on Friday lauded the 25 members of the House of Representatives who had vowed to back the proposed measure despite the snag it suffered in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident.
The January 25 incident in Maguindanao province left 44 police commandos dead in a clash with combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
“This [promise of the 25 lawmakers]only shows how broad the clamor for peace is, and we are heartened to see that our legislators recognize that clamor and that they are prepared to fight for it even if that may not be a popular position to take right now,” Deles said in a statement.
On Thursday, pollster Pulse Asia reported that the Mamasapano massacre has largely eroded the public’s acceptance of the proposed BBL.
Its latest survey indicated that 62 percent of the people from Mindanao do not support the bill, Its latest survey indicated that 62 percent of the people from Mindanao do not support the bill, which would pave the way for the establishment of a new political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Throughout the country, 44 percent or about five in 10 Filipinos who responded to the poll are opposed to passage of the BBL.
Deles, nonetheless, expressed optimism that the measure will pass legislative scrutiny in time to allow preparations for a plebiscite.
She disclosed that the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL will work on the proposal even if both Houses are on recess.
“It is reassuring to see that our [members of Congress], in the spirit of true statesmanship, recognize how urgent and pressing the passage of this law is [as is]evident in this expression of support and in the willingness of the leadership of the ad hoc committee to work on the bill even while Congress is adjourned,” Deles noted.
“We laud and fully support the efforts of our valiant legislators who see and recognize the need for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, especially because this important piece of legislation is a step toward finally resolving the decades-long conflict in Muslim Mindanao,” she said.
In contrast to the Pulse Asia survey that showed majority of the people of Mindanao are against the BBL, Deles pointed out that the legislators who supported the bill are not only from Mindanao “but from Visayas and Luzon as well, along with representatives from party-list groups.”
The 25 lawmakers last March 18 issued a statement expressing their support for the measure.
“We call for peace. We reiterate our support and continue to call for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and we assure the Filipino public that we will do everything in our power to make sure that it will pass,” their statement said.
The BBL calls for the holding of a plebiscite in areas to be included in the new autonomous region if the measure gets cleared by the legislature.
Among the areas that are to be included in the new Bangsamoro autonomous region are current ones under the ARMM, the cities of Cotabato and Isabela (Basilan) and several areas in North Cotabato.
Pulse Asia Research Inc. conducted the survey from March 1 to 7 as the nation continued to reel from the aftermath of the carnage in Mamasapano town.