AN international peace group repeated government warnings Sunday that violence is likely to break out after Congress failed to pass the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law and as the country heads into elections.
“As disappointment over the BBL mixes with election-related political tensions, flashpoints are likely. Rather than blame or condemn the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] or those who support the BBL, let us see take these as our prompt to study the BBL,” said Judy Gulane, communication specialist at International Alert Philippines.
The group also agreed with the Palace that the BBL was “the best chance at self-determination” for Muslims, and the “best chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao.”
The group said it welcomed the announcement that the government and the MILF would sustain the peace process even though Congress failed to pass the BBL, the lynchpin in the government’s peace agreement with the MILF.
The group also urged the two sides to consult with groups that felt excluded in the previous peace talks as well as legislators who opposed the BBL before they refile the bill in the 17th Congress.
International Alert also said it was important to sustain the development of Muslim Mindanao, with or without a new law.
This was particularly important with the non-approval of the BBL and rising radicalism among the Muslim youth, the group said.
Data show that despite higher investments by the Aquino government, economic growth of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao remains among the slowest and its poverty incidence among highest in the country. In its remaining months in office, the Aquino government must continue to pour in funds that the region needs while the incoming government must heed the region’s growth requirements, the peace group said.
“We urge regional and local government officials to continue pursuing growth plans and to always prioritize the welfare of their people. In this respect, we commend regional officials’ promise to forge ahead with development plans despite the lack of a BBL and municipal-level initiatives to draw business investments to the localities. We also commend businesses that have chosen to set up shop in the ARMM despite many uncertainties,” the group said.