OPAPP positive for BBL’s Passage

As much as the administration expects a positive deliberation in Congress, it is important to highlight the concrete measures that the national government plans to do if the bill is enacted into law.

President Aquino expressed his high hopes for the swift passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) last September 10 as it goes to Congress. He handed over the draft BBL to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and was witnessed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, some lawmakers and Cabinet members.

As much as the administration expects a positive deliberation in Congress, it is important to highlight the concrete measures that the national government plans to do if the bill is enacted into law.

The Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agrement on the Bangsamoro was signed last January 25, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which completes the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), which gives the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) a step nearer to achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.

On September 18, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) presented its proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 during the Committee on Finance hearing chaired by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

Secretary Teresita Deles, requested for a total budget of Php 642.522 million but only Php 582.280 million was approved by the Department of Budget and Management; and such reduction will affect personal services.

Secretary Deles further discussed the normalization process through special provisions and socio-economic components with the aid of proper implementation of “peace” projects. One of the agency’s programs to address the process is the Payapa at Masaganang PamayaNAN (PAMANA) which serves as the national government’s program framework for peace and development; implemented in conflict affected communities covered by existing peace agreements.

Secretary Deles also expressed during the hearing that they are positive that the BBL will be passed in Congress next year.

“Bringing the program in conflict affected areas will allow greater engagements between the government and the communities. This initiative focuses on intensifying the political and development engagements at the community level and is expected to generate consensus on lowering the level of violence on the ground, as well as forging political settlements of armed conflict,” Secretary Deles added.

However, Sen. Escudero expressed his concern on how  the government will address various factions formed after being opted out during the consultation of the Bangsamoro Agreement.

GPH Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that presently space for talks and consultations with the MILF and MNLF are open. “In fact, MILF and MNLF are assisting on ground information to the AFP.”

A newcomer rebel group called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the latest manifestation of organized militancy derived from Bangsamoro Muslim grievances in Mindanao was formed led by Ameril Umbra Kato after he was not included in the peace process.

“BIFF calls for an Islamic State and this requires law enforcement issues”, Coronel said.

The national government expects 65% of the MILF forces and weapons being decommissioned by 2015.

As part of the confidence-building measures, the GPH and MILF constituted joint task forces for the six previously acknowledged MILF camps (Camp Abubakar as Siddique in Maguindanao; Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur; Camp Omar ibn al Khattab in Maguindanao; Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao; Camp Badre in Maguindanao; and Camp BusrahSomiorang in Lanao del Sur) which are tasked to assess the needs, plan appropriate programs and undertake necessary measures to transform these areas into peaceful and productive communities.

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