Duterte set to ask Congress for ‘special session’ on BBL

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday revealed he will ask Congress to hold a special session to discuss the speedy passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which seeks the creation of a new Bangsamoro government to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

During his speech at the Bangsamoro assembly in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, the Chief Executive began by asking the nation to understand the problem of the Bangsamoro.

"What's at stake is the preservation of the Filipino republic, and to correct the historical injustice," he stressed. "We are brothers and sisters of the Malay race."

He said Islam was the first one to flourish in Mindanao but with the coming of imperialism, other religions started to spread.

"(There's) nothing strange about that (but) the fighting began," he said. "Kinuha ang mga ancestral lands ng Moro. The dream of the Moro is just to retake what they had."

"If you are not a Moro, if you are a Christian, you cannot be a native of Mindanao," he said, pointing out that if the problem is not addressed soon, "the fundamental issue of historical injustice" will not end.

From his end, he said he seeks a solution that is inclusive: "Wala dapat maiwan sa peace talks na ito. MILF, MNLF, Moro, lahat Lumad dapat kasali. Dapat maibigay ang arrangement na acceptable sa kanila."

Giving his word he will work hard to attain this resolution, he laid out the plan to request the Senate and the House of Representatives for the special session.

"It's a matter of self-preservation, for all of us," he added. "What will we get if we go to war again? With the threat of ISIS, taking the name of Allah in vain, killing people. We must avoid pitfalls of violence."

The BBL is part of the process to implement the political track of the peace deal -- Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro -- signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

Earlier, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez committed to enact the bill.

BBL's passage into law will signal the creation of the Bangsamoro government that is parliamentary in structure, to be managed by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

The assembly in Maguindanao was convened for Moro communities reaffirming their support to the peace talks between the government and the MILF.

Source: Philippine News Agency