President Aquino not giving up on passage of BBL measure

By Joann Santiago

MANILA, Oct. 27 (PNA) — President Benigno Aquino III is not losing hope that eventual approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will materialize within his term.

“Well, we still have to pass the budget and I’m sure they (lawmakers) will be present during the budget (deliberations), which will give time to pass other measures besides the budget,” he told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) in a forum Tuesday.

The Aquino administration continues to push for the approval of the BBL measure in a bid to ensure peace and economic growth in Mindanao.

A plebiscite is scheduled to be held in 2016 if the BBL bill gets the thumbs-up of the current Congress.

The plebiscite will determine the people’s decision on whether or not they want to be headed by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will also be created by a law.

The proposed BBL measure has faced challenges, especially after the conduct of a mission to arrest US-wanted terrorists in Mamasapano,Maguindanao last January 25, wherein 44 members of the police’s elite force along with several MILF members and civilians were killed.

Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was killed in the said operation although reports have claimed that the terrorist was not killed by members of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF) but by his aides.

The government said it was verifying the validity of the said report.

During the said police operation, Filipino terrorist, Basit Usman, who is the other target of the mission, was able to get away. He was, however, killed in another police operation last May.

Aquino said passage of the proposed BBL is needed so that a referendum could be held.

“Now, if it comes in too late—let’s say February, when the election ban presumably already happens—you have a government in place that can do nothing. Therefore—(it) will demonstrate nothing—therefore, will doom the possibility of the solution having a chance to prove its worth,” he added. (PNA)