Duterte: Pass BBL or 'I might just resign'

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte: Pass BBL or 'I might just resign'

In this Sept. 4, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte meets with Moro Islamic Liberation Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim during a meeting in Malacañan Palace. Also joining Murad are Bangsamoro Transition Commission Chair Ghazali Jaafar, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace implementing panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal. Rolando Mailo/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to step down if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law does not hurdle Congress next month. 

Congress is on recess but will resume sessions on May 15 before adjourning its second regular session on June 1. Each congress holds three regular sessions and bills that are not passed by then will need to be refiled.

Duterte said passage of BBL, which he has yet to certify as urgent, should be prioritized. He said he is getting tired of trying to solve the longstanding conflict in Mindanao.

The BBL is meant to implement the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Both the MILF and MNLF have peace deals with the government, although military operations continue against extremist groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf. 

"I assure you, before the end of May, it will be passed. If not, I might just resign from the presidency. You deal with that. I can't do it anymore," he said at a turnover of unlicensed firearms in Maguindanao last Wednesday. 

"It's useless. If you give me this kind of administration until the end of my term, frankly, I would rather resign. I am getting tired trying to solve the problem," he added. 

The president leads the administration PDP-Laban party, which dominates both houses of Congress. Congress has in the past shown that it is willing to vote according to the president's policy decisions.

The proposed BBL seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity with enhanced autonomy. Duterte has warned that failure to enact the measure would worsen the problem in Mindanao and provide terrorists an opportunity to recruit members. 

Duterte has been expressed readiness to resign to show his strong stance towards key issues. He had also promised to quit if he fails to solve the drug menace within the first six months of his term but later on abandoned his stance after admitting that he underestimated the problem. 

'BBL not about monopolizing Moro lands'

The president, who claims Maranao heritage, said the BBL is not about monopolizing the Moro lands but giving voices to Moros and addressing their concerns. 

"It's like the Liberal Party or the national party. It will just provide voice to the Moros so they can be heard and we can fix things," Duterte said. 

"Give me time, this year...I will complete it. We will prioritize BBL." 

Mindanao to become a land reform area

Duterte also promised to declare the whole of Mindanao a land reform area and to provide livelihood to the Moros. 

"I will declare the whole of Mindanao a land reform area. I will give you everything, including the land owned by the government. You can use it to plant rubber and palm oil," the president said. 

"Look for the lands owned by the government and the military camps if we achieve peace. It will be yours," he added. 

The Transitional Justice, in its 2017 Land Report, points out that "conflict over land is a major source of violence in various parts of Mindanao, particularly in the proposed Bangsamoro region." 

Waves of migration from 1898 to the present have turned Moros and indigenous peoples of Mindanao a minority in their own homemand, TJRC said in the report.

The TJRC also notes that: "The quest to reclaim their ancestral domain remains central to the
Moro cause."

Turnover of unlicensed guns

Duterte witnessed the turnover of about 900 unlicensed firearms in Buluan town last Wednesday as part of the government's efforts to curb armed threats in Mindanao. 

The event coincided with the launching of the Balik Baril program, which encourages citizens to surrender unlicensed firearms in exchange for livelihood.

In a welcome message, Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu told the president that the provincial peace and order council started its own firearm reduction campaign, along with the Police Regional Office-ARMM and the 6th Infantry Division, even before Malacañang launched its Balik Baril Program early this year.

"Early on, Maguindanao province hit the local, national and foreign news for achieving a big feat — that of Buldon municipality, that once accounted for most number of bloody rido, or vendetta conflicts among local clans in the province, becoming a 'rido-free' municipality," Mangudadatu said.

He said the achievement was a result of the joint settlement by the mayor of Buldon, Abolais Manalao, the provincial governor's office, the PRO-ARMM and the 6th ID of all rido (clan wars) in the area.

"That paved the way for the surrender of dozens upon dozens of firearms by local residents, realizing they don't need firearms anymore as protection from adversaries," said Mangudadatu, now in his third and last term as governor.

Duterte promised to provide assistance to rebels who would surrender to the government and urged residents of Maguindanao to stop any attempt by terrorists to penetrate their area. 

"I said I will proclaim the entire Mindanao, almost, as a land reform area...I can provide the tractors but do not sell them...I will give the lands away. I can provide the seedlings as support," the president said. 

"I'm willing to allow the Arabs to enter. But tell the terrorists: 'Do not f*** it here,'” he added. 

Duterte said innocent civilians, including the children and elderly, would suffer if terrorists enter Maguindanao. 

"You have your own war. You fight it out there. Leave us in peace... I will talk to a Moro but I will never talk to a terrorist," the president said. — with John Unson in Maguindanao



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