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Posted on Tuesday May 19th at 12:26pm

By Rosette Adel

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano expressed vehement opposition against the proposed Bangsomoro Basic Law (BBL), saying it only further weakens the country’s resolution to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

In a statement Monday, Cayetano called on Congress to be extremely cautious even in passing an amended BBL.

“Peace will never come out because of a piece of paper. It might even be complicated … Even if there is a written law, if it will not bring real and lasting peace,” Cayetano said, quoting a statement a statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

“If we have to pass a new law, it must not be about one group but about a just, inclusive lasting peace in Mindanao,” Cayetano added.

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The senator also argued that the BBL may allow the Moro Islamic Liberation grow in influence.

“We all want a just, inclusive lasting peace in Mindanao. But the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law as framed mainly points to giving the Moro Islamic Liberation Front more power and access to billions, all without any clear and definite accountability to our national government,”Cayetano said.

Cayetano said the passage of the BBL in its present form may send a wrong message to the Bangsamoro community. He argued that the government will always be willing to negotiate with those who take up arms and grant anything to earn a promised “peace.”

The government does not need the BBL to attain peace as there are other measures that would address the dissatisfaction and fuel progress and unity in Mindanao, Cayetano said.

The senator added that the government should just commit the funds intended for the establishment of BBL to the approved Mindanao Development Plan instead of continuously debating the contentious and constitutional issues found in the proposed law.

Cayetano also believes delaying the implementation of the government’s plan gives reason for other armed groups to spark conflict in Mindanao.

“Let us learn from the lessons of ARMM. We may have silenced the [Moro National Liberation Front] momentarily, but the peace did not hold,” he said.

“Even before the BBL can be passed, the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front), JIM (Justice Islamic Movement) and private armed groups have already indicated they do not support the BBL led by MILF. So this early, we already know there can be no just and lasting peace in Mindanao even if we pass BBL. The only inevitable change that can be achieved by a BBL is a more powerful and dangerous MILF,” Cayetano explained.

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