Yesterday (November 27), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held what it called the Bangsamoro Assembly in Maguindanao in support of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The proposed law, as we know, seeks to establish a new autonomous government for the Moro to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The new version of the BBL has been pending in Congress since earlier this year. The original BBL was rejected by the legislature as unconstitutional as it was deemed to give too many powers to the contemplated Bangsamoro Region that it would virtually function as a separate state.
President Rodrigo Duterte has urged Congress to fast-track the passage of the bill: “If we do not act on it expeditiously, I think that we are headed for trouble...We must continue to talk and I will urge Congress to fast-track it because they are getting impatient.”
The President also urged the MILF to be patient and “just wait a bit but we will comply (with what we have promised). That is a commitment, not even a promise, but a commitment to the Moro people.”
We really hope that our lawmakers would prioritize deliberations on the BBL as the passage of this landmark piece of legislation would pave the way for genuine autonomy for Muslim Mindanao.
We would even venture to say that if the original BBL had been passed in the 16th Congress, perhaps the Marawi conflict could have been avoided, and the P90 billion to P100 billion estimated to rebuild the city from the ravages of war could have gone instead to livelihood projects or essential social services for Mindanawons now living in poverty.
But that's all water under the bridge, so to speak, and the important thing now is to move swiftly so that Marawi would not be repeated elsewhere and result in many casualties and displaced people.
The new BBL offers a chance for us to restore peace and accelerate economic growth and social progress in Muslim Mindanao. We urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible.