A timely call!

Before leaving for Japan on October 31, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) called Congress to expedite the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “or the country will be headed for trouble,” the President warned.

The President further said: “If we do not act on it (BBL) expeditiously, we are a headed for another trouble, so I hope Congress can fast track it because they (MILF and MNLF) are getting impatient. We will comply on our side [of the peace agreement],”

“This is not even a promise, but a commitment,” he added.

These were exactly the words of the President as quoted by leading newspapers and other media practitioners. We did not annotate them nor put anything in them.

This statement came in the heel of a supposed big gathering sponsored by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) with the MILF and MNLF faction under Chair Yusoph Jikiri actively supporting it. The president was supposed to be the guest of honour during this assembly which was originally scheduled on October 28, but reset on November 3-4. This is part of the BTC mandates contained in Executive Order No. 08 signed by the president. The assembly is designed as an avenue for consensus-building and support for the passage of the BBL.

However, after getting the green light from the Office of the President (OP) to proceed with the second sets of dates, all of a sudden a message came from the same that the President will not be available during those dates. We accepted the OP’s message sincerely and without doubt; thus, the BTC cancelled the holding of the assembly until further notice after November 18 when the President is said to be available. We hope this time it will be fixed and final.

To our view, in making such statements, President Duterte is speaking from the heart. More so, he is completely aware of the realities of the day. He is both a realist and pragmatist.

As such, aside from his consistent view of the justness of the Moro aspirations, he knows that this Moro struggle will not stop until a just conclusion is achieved. Leaders and followers of revolutionary fronts will come and go but the struggle will stay and continue, and others will pick it up and continue. The risk is that it may take into many forms and ways. Weird ways cannot be discounted – and of course, they cannot be justified nor prosper, but they will be there, as part of the harsh conflict.

Surely, there is no other way for this struggle to proceed: Not the weird ways; and of course, not through chaos nor fratricidal warfare, but reconciliation, solidarity, and unity.

But thanks God, we see this sign of unity early now --- which can be showcased when the assembly happens in November. That is the reason why it is billed the “Bangsamoro Assembly”.  Participants will come from as far as Palawan, Manila, as well as from many parts of the world.

Finally, we view our partnership with the Duterte administration with much hope and promises. Together we must not fail in our common search for a just and lasting peace in Mindanao. This will be through the passage of a good BBL!