President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday urged Congress to hasten the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to avoid more “trouble” from secessionist groups in Mindanao.
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The President said he remained committed to the promise he gave to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that the BBL would be approved.
“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,” Mr. Duterte said during a news conference at the Davao International Airport shortly before he flew to Japan on Sunday.
“I said, just wait a bit but we will comply on our side what we have promised. That is a commitment, not even a promise, but a commitment to the Moro people,” he added.
The President said he continued to talk to leaders of MILF and MNLF to allay their concerns about the chances of the proposed law being passed by Congress.
BBL defines the basic structure of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous state in Mindanao, a key feature of the federal form of government being pushed by Mr. Duterte and his allies. The draft measure was submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to the President on July 17.
A similar bill was filed during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, but Congress failed to pass it.
“We continue to talk and I hope that Congress would expedite its approval,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I have committed to the main rebellion fronts … that we will work for a federal setup, and maybe grant them the territories that they want and the kind of framework of governance that they expect with a reformation of all the things in the Philippines,” he added.
Secretary Adelino Sitoy, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, earlier said that Malacañang expected the proposed law to reach second or third reading in Congress by yearend.