Nat’l Peace Summit to discuss Bangsamoro Basic Law eyed PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 29 March 2015 14:39

President Benigno S. Aquino on Friday said a National Peace Summit will be held to better understand the importance of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The President made the announcement in a speech delivered on the first year anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“The Bangsamoro Basic Law is one of the most important proposed bills of our administration. It answers the two most pressing problems of our countrymen: poverty and violence. This bill is the product of 17 years of extensive study and negotiations.

“Even then, there are those who oppose its enactment. Unfortunately, their criticism solely stems from a lack of understanding of the BBL; take, for example, their statements that there will be a separate police force for the Bangsamoro once it is enacted into law. Should we trust those who say that the peace talks should be ceased, yet offer no other solutions? If we believe these people, where will they take us?”

The President said that if the proposed bill is lacking, it can be addressed by pushing through with the debates on it.

“With the continuation of hearings about the BBL in Congress, each one is given an opportunity to understand the proposed bill. We believe an initiative that arose out of good intentions can be fixed by those who likewise have good intentions towards their fellowmen,” he said.

He said he was aware that the events in Mindanao, together with the incident in Mamasapano, have sowed doubt in the minds of the people and has pushed aside the objective evaluation of the BBL.

“To address this, I am inviting citizen leaders known for their wisdom and integrity to stand as independent convenors. These include Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee, and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman. They will gather other responsible and respected leaders to spearhead a National Peace Summit to deliberate on and discuss the BBL. They will dissect the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness. This way, the BBL can be improved. They will write a report that will be made public, so that everyone may be informed, and so that more of our countrymen may understand the matter. In this manner, we will be able to advance a reasonable decision as regards the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he explained.

The President said, “There are also those who call for an end to the peace process. They say that an all-out war is the way to go. And I ask them: What gain do you see from waging war? Now that we are moving forward as a nation and are on the cusp of success, do they really think that we should advance violence, only to bring us back to the path of hardship?”

The President also noted that previous administrations have tried an all-out war approach. “All-out war has been the response since the 70s. How did that turn out for them and for us? The only result: hundreds of thousands of casualties, ruined livelihoods, and a status quo of suffering in Mindanao. Is it not clear that their approach was wrong?”

President Aquino also stressed that “if the peace process is derailed once more, we will lose ground for sincere dialogue with leaders, and with all the Moros who are ready to listen to reason and who genuinely seek peace”.

“Isn’t it possible that they too might be pushed to join those who want violence? If the troubling situation in Mindanao worsens, the wounds would grow deeper, and more persons would resent their condition. Those who were previously neglected and abused by the system and by institutions will further feel mistreated. Those who have never been reached by the assistance of government will suffer all the more. Do you think that, should all this happen, they will be sincere partners in peace talks after being hurt, after shedding blood, and after being persecuted?”

“Let me make it clear: This decision is not just for the remainder of my term, but for the benefit of the next generations. To you, the young people, will you suffer a society in which you would be required to march into war instead of fulfilling your dreams? To the parents: Would you want the next generation to inherit a future marked by conflict? We will not allow this to happen. We will continue on the path that will bring us closer to peace,” he continued.

“Let us remember: The potential of two generations has been wasted because of conflict. Now that we are all here, are we going to allow the succeeding generations to meet the same fate?

“Violence cannot resolve violence; anger can never come to an end, if it is also met with anger. Only compassion can put an end to violence; only love can extinguish anger.

“Is it too much to ask that Filipinos show compassion and love to their fellow Filipinos? No one can deny that, if we attain peace, the standard of living in the Bangsamoro will rise. And when one region rises, so too does the entire country. Indeed: peace is the only path to our aspirations of inclusive growth.”

“On this day, God willing, may we be reminded that we have a golden opportunity at present to attain peace, and ensure that the positive fruits of laying down arms will enlighten those who wish to sow chaos.

“God willing, may we remember that a brighter future waits; we need only to strengthen and continue what we have already started. Let us reinforce our trust; let us reinforce our hope; these will be our contributions to an orderly and prosperous society, one that we can be proud of, and one that we can bequeath to the next generations.

“I do not pursue peace just to add to my legacy. What we are pursuing is a genuine peace that truly addresses the roots of the problems that led to violence. At this point in our history, I say to all of you: The BBL will make this a reality,” he concluded.