De Lima hopes Bangsamoro Law will bring lasting peace in Mindanao

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed hopes that the impending passage into law of the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law will bring lasting peace and stability in war-stricken Mindanao and improve the plight of the Bangsamoro people.

In her Manifestation on the Ratification of the Bicameral Committee Report on the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), De Lima said she is hopeful that the proposed measure would give the Bangsamoro people genuine autonomy and allow for meaningful self-governance.

“It is my fervent hope that this landmark legislation will be the catalyst in achieving lasting peace in Mindanao and for our impoverished countrymen in the BARMM to finally enjoy the blessings of prosperity and democracy under a united Philippines,” she said in her Manifestation which was entered into Senate records last July 24.

Hours ahead of Mr. Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, the Senate ratified the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the Organic Law for the BARMM, which is part of the government’s commitment to the 2014 peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Mr. Duterte was supposed to sign the proposed measure on the same day but it did not push through as the Lower House adjourned its session before it could be ratified. He, however, committed to signing the Bangsamoro Organic Law in 48 hours or within two days from his SONA.

De Lima, who remains detained on obviously bogus drug trading charges, noted that her current situation prevented her from participating in the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law at the Senate, which she considers as a “historic occasion.”

“For decades, peace has eluded the Land of Promise and the Food Basket of the Philippines. Years of violence have led to tens of thousands of families internally displaced, hundreds of thousands of our countrymen killed, and billions of pesos in lost economic activity,” she said.

“But alas, our legislative contribution to the peace process has finally crossed the Rubicon,” she added.

De Lima, who now chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said the Bangsamoro Organic Law proves that federalism is not the solution to the country’s woes.

“The present form of government under the 1987 Constitution already enshrines decentralization and grants local governments autonomy over their jurisdiction,” she said.

“Charter Change is not needed to foster national unity, to address insurgency and terrorism, to uplift the economic condition of the vulnerable sectors of society, and to ensure the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” she added.

Last July 9, the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) submitted its draft of the proposed Federal Constitution to Mr. Duterte, and to the Upper and Lower Chambers of Congress which will soon begin debating the said proposed constitution.

De Lima has always been pushing for the passage of the Bangsamoro Law, previously noting in her Dispatch from Crame No. 190 that “the urgency in actualizing the proposed changes in the governmental, political, fiscal and justice structures for the Bangsamoro people, to supplant the discarded, deficient ARMM set-up [is] imperative, given the lingering and worsening threats of terrorism and extremism in the area.”

Last year, the Senator from Bicol had expressed support for Mr. Duterte’s call for the immediate passage of the law last year, but was dismayed on the administration’s decision to defer the passage of the BBL in February this year.

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