Duterte wants to address historical injustice to Moros

“I plead to all Filipinos listening now to understand the problem,” Pres. Duterte said during the Bangsa Moro Assembly Monday.-Albert Alcain/PPD

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will “work very hard” to address historical injustices committed against the Moro people but added that the peace talks should become more inclusive.

“I plead to all Filipinos listening now to understand the problem,” Pres. Duterte said in reference to the centuries-old Bangsamoro struggle. The president was in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao on November 27, for the two-day Bangsamoro Assembly that started on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. echoed the Chief Executive’s latest pronouncement during his visit in Maguindanao on Monday, November 27, wherein he stood by his promise to pass the BBL during his presidency.

“The President’s message is very clear.  It was a campaign promise and it is a commitment from him as President that he will do all that is necessary to rectify what he described as the historical injustice committed against the Muslim population of Mindanao,” Roque said.

He further stressed that unlike the previous version of the bill, the new BBL would be more inclusive and would take into account proposals of different stakeholders, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) or Lumads in Mindanao.

IPs in the region earlier protested the previous version of the BBL, claiming it had classified them as “Bangsamoro” as well.  In the new draft proposal, the proposed entity is expected to still recognize laws protecting non-Islamized tribes.

Roque said President Duterte considers the BBL as one of his top priorities.  He said although no specific deadline has been set by the executive, the President may call on Congress to hold a special session to work on the bill’s passage.

“[W]hat is important only is that if they run out of time, a special session is required for Congress to meet as a body… I don’t want to pressure Congress right now, but I think they have received the message that this is one of the top priorities of the administration,” he said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is greeted by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim upon his arrival at the Old Provincial Capital in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao for his attendance to the Bangsamoro Assembly on November 27, 2017. Also in the photo are Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committe Chairman Yusoph Jikiri, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.-Albert Alcain/PPD

The event, organized by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was attended by more than a million people which includes high-ranking officials from the government, nongovernmental organizations, indigenous peoples (IPs), religious leaders, and representatives from other groups such as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The assembly was aimed at drumming up support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law’s (BBL) immediate enactment. For his part, Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said he is one with the Bangsamoro people.

“Pumunta ako dito hindi lamang upang magpakita ng simpatya at suporta sa inyo, kundi naniniwala po ako na kabilang ako at kasama niyo ako sa kampanyang ito,” ARMM governor Hataman said.

He reiterated his commitment to vacate his post when the BBL is enacted.

Murad Ibrahim, MILF chair, said his group must now transition into a social movement. “From fortification of camps with arms, we venture into the development of our communities with new sets of learned skills and prepare the leadership from a revolutionary mindset into transformative leaders and managers,” he added.

Ibrahim said that the MILF will continuously push for the enactment of the BBL “because we are convinced of the justness and legitimacy of the Bangsamoro cause.”-Editha Z. Caduaya/newsline.ph with ARMM information Bureau