MOUNT SAMAT, Bataan: Drawing lessons from World War II, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday tried to revive public support for the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In his speech during commemoration ceremonies for the 73rd anniversary of the fall of Bataan, Aquino said lessons learned by the Philippines and the rest of the world from past great wars pushed him to pitch for the passage of the BBL.
During World War II, more than a million Filipinos died. Of that number, more than 70,000 perished during the Bataan “Death March,” which started on April 9, 1942.
“Clearly, progress cannot be achieved through mere individual action. Conflict can only lead to more suffering and misunderstanding, while solidarity brings widespread benefit,” Aquino said in Filipino.
“This is the same lesson that leads us to champion lasting peace in Mindanao, and to call for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he added.
The MILF has been pursuing peace with the Philippine government.
The peace process, however, is now in peril as a result of a deadly encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, between Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The incident left 44 SAF troops and several rebels dead and reignited calls for all-out war against the MILF and other Muslim insurgents.
President Aquino, however, maintained that the MILF remains a partner for peace despite the recent setbacks.
“Imagine, hose who were once our enemies are today our partners in realizing a just tpeace for all. In coming together to foster stability in Mindanao, all the more are we able to widen the scope of opportunities available to our countrymen,” he said.
“In doing this, no one will be driven to join radical factions, terrorist groups and others interested only in pursuing their selfish agendas,” Aquino added.
The President reiterated that he would not let the Bangsamoro peace process fail, noting that two generations have suffered from violence in Mindanao.
“However hard our task may be, whatever challenges we may face, we will continue to pursue peace, because this is the way to obtain justice for all,” he said.
Congress is now under pressure to pass the BBL, even as critics continue to raise objections to what they believe are questionable provisions in the proposed law.
The Aquino administration is hoping for the law to be passed this June to allow the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will be a holdover government until the May 2016 elections.