Sponsorship speech of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. on Senate Bill 2894 or the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law

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THIS representation fully adheres to the view that peace and development are as much primary objectives of the bbl as the enhanced autonomy for Muslim Mindanao that we are now granting to our brothers and sisters in the autonomous region.

And in order to elevate these objectives as paramount societal ideals and safeguard their immediate attainment, your committee has found the need to incorporate explicit provisions in the substitute bill, otherwise lacking in the original draft. Adoption by incorporation in the law is to imbue them decisively with the force and character of a legal mandate for the Bangsamoro regional government to accomplish, in partnership with the national government.

This policy of “normalization” is hereby emphasized in the substitute bill as both a corollary and integral obligation, alongside this grant of enhanced autonomy to the erstwhile armm. It shall necessarily embrace the united nations principles of “ddr” or disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, so as to attune and peg the milestones of the normalization efforts to internationally acceptable standards of peacekeeping and post-conflict recovery, which have been developed by the un through years of effective remedial intervention in conflict areas all around the world.

Decommissioning of forces, as we call it in the substitute bill, both of combatants and civilians, shall be an integral component of our normalization policy, and as the crucial first-step to disarm, literally and figuratively, a portion of our people so used or so steeped in a culture of arms-bearing, fighting and killing. This is a time to restore mutual trust and confidence, otherwise lost or besmirched because of unwanted incidents in the past, but which we have all vowed to not allow us to relapse. This is a time to start over again. Hence, this is a time for our brothers and sisters to lay down our arms, and replace them with plows, tools of trade, books, computers, and other wholesome and more potent materials of creation—and not of destruction—and other building blocks of social development and progress.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, autonomy is a continuous process. Our definition too of autonomy to our local government units under our local government code of 1991, as amended, is continually evolving. Our proposed redefinition of autonomy of the autonomous region of muslim mindanao will certainly be revisited and again be redefined in the future, not on the strength of armed struggle, but in the pursuit of good governance for our people.

We strive for peace, and i believe this improved version of the basic law for the bangsamoro autonomous region provides the conditions by which peace can finally be achieved. It does so not just by delineating national and regional authority and providing effective mechanisms by which the region can be quickly demilitarized, but by focusing with great care on the root causes of the conflict which has persisted for far too long and brought nothing but misery and poverty to the people in this rich, underappreciated part of mindanao.

For too long, mindanao has been somewhat dubiously referred to as the “land of promise” – aspirants for national offices, recognizing that in order to win elections on a national scale they must win in mindanao, have promised the sun, the moon, and the stars to its people. Sometimes those promises are accompanied by short-term largesse, dole-outs of food, minor development projects, medical and social assistance, but these little benefits have never benefited all mindanaoans equitably, and do not last. When the votes are counted and the campaign banners come down, the region is forgotten again, its people left to their despair, which leads to hopeless violence and provides fertile ground for those who seek their own gain at the expense of not just the people of mindanao, but the entire philippines.

By creating the conditions for lasting peace and prosperity in the bangsamoro autonomous region, i firmly believe we are creating the conditions for lasting peace and prosperity for all filipinos, and it is in that spirit i have introduced the basic law for the bangsamoro autonomous region for your learned deliberation. As the familiar saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Our southern lands are rich in natural resources, rich in agricultural potential, and rich in the culture and industriousness of its people. Some of our country’s most beautiful natural features are located there, but for far too long the beauty of the land, its wildlife, and its people have been isolated from the rest of the country and the rest of the world by a bitter, futile conflict.

By striving for a just peace, one that is inclusive and all-embracing, we strengthen ourselves and the entire nation. We become richer materially and richer in spirit by respecting the differences in the many cultures found among the filipino people, while welcoming those people to share in our collective work and rewards as brethren and partners. By striving for a just peace that spreads from mindanao throughout our entire country, we create a bright beacon of hope and prosperity for our kindred in sabah, and bring a future in which our nation can be once again made whole and united just that much nearer.

Peace is the first step on an endless golden road to the future. Peace leads to order, which leads to progress, which leads to prosperity and dignity for all. Peace is in the soul of our nation – it is what our heroes, the brave saf 44 and so many before them, fought and gave their last breath to achieve.

We must not fail them. We must not fail those they left behind. We must not fail ourselves. We must have peace, and we shall, through this basic law we begin deliberating today. We stand now at a crossroads – let us choose the right path, the only path. The path of peace. May god bless our work, and may god bless the philippines.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, the committees on local government; peace, unification and reconciliation; and constitutional amendments and revision of codes are presenting to you senate bill no. 2894 under committee report no. 200 for the consideration of the senate.

Thank you.

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