MALACAÑANG on Friday assured the public that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not use government funds to make sure that lawmakers will pass the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, said the executive will not revive the abolished and unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to reward lawmakers who will back the BBL.
“Wala na hong PDAF. Baka sabihin gagamit kami ng PDAF. Wala na hong PDAF [PDAF is gone. People might say we would use PDAF to get lawmakers’ nod for the BBL. PDAF is gone],” Valte told reporters in a news conference.
The PDAF, or discretionary allocation given by the executive to legislators, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.
When asked if there will be “pabaon” or parting gift to BBL supporters who might be on their last term of office, Valte pointed out that it is not the practice of the Aquino administration to dangle funds before lawmakers to push for a piece of legislation.
“Hindi ho uso sa Aquino administration iyon [It’s not the style of the
Aquino administration],” she said.
The BBL is a product of peace negotiations between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The measure will pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro region that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Since a deadly clash between police commandos and MILF fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25 that went the way of the Muslim separatist group, lawmakers have sought to either junk or revise the BBL as issues on its constitutionality linger.
President Aquino recently met with Congress leaders, who are reportedly eyeing to pass the BBL before his final State of the Nation Address in July this year.
Meanwhile, Valte said the executive department will continue to hold consultations with lawmakers regarding the BBL.
She reiterated the President’s appeal to legislators not to dilute the BBL too much.
“Bukas po tayo doon sa mga pag-amyenda, ang hinihingi lang po natin ay ma-preserve naman yung spirit ng ating gustong mangyari [We are open to amending it, but what we want is to preserve the spirit of what we want the BBL to be],” Valte said
The Bangsamoro Basic Law can wait, a former House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao told the MILF also on Friday.
In the meantime, Gerry Ajul Salapuddin, in an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, proposed the holding of a Mindanao peace summit even as he advised the separatist group to temporarily disengage from pushing the passage of the BBL at the House of Representatives.
Based on his own initiative as a Muslim leader, Salapuddin is going around the South to meet with provincial and city executives in order to extend to them his proposal for the peace summit, to purposely unite the voices from the ARMM and other parts of Mindanao in support of peace and the position of the President for the enactment into law of a genuine BBL by Congress.
He first met his former House colleague for nine years and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, whom he said supported his proposal.
From Cagayan de Oro, Salapuddin went to see Lanao del Norte Gov. Mohammad Khaleed Dimaporo, the second youngest governor in the Philippines.
The young Dimaporo, according to him, also expressed full support for the Mindanao peace summit.
Salapuddin is also a former foreign-trained and top commander of the Moro National Liberation Front of the Basilan State Revolutionary Committee.