MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III said he wants efforts to be doubled against those who want to spoil the gains in his administration’s talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
During a roundtable discussion with Inquirer editors and journalists, President Aquino said people who will exploit the allegedly brewing discontent within MILF must be thwarted, as the nation does not stand to gain from another armed conflict in Mindanao.
"I don’t submit to the premise that war will break out… There will be spoilers who will exploit the current difficulties. Those of us advocating peace should redouble efforts to thwart these groups,” he said.
Aquino acknowledged the difficulties being experienced in Congress in passing the basic law on the Bangsamoro.
He, however, said the absence of a law establishing a new autonomous region for the Bangsamoro people should not hinder the delivery of so-called "peace dividends" to the impoverished region.
“Even absent the BBL, we are hoping Congress will support initiatives that will shower these people with peace dividends and get them further engaged in the process. We will continue to lobby members of Congress to pass the law during our watch.
Public and legislative support for the Palace and MILF-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law suffered following the January 25 Mamasapano clash, which saw 44 elite policemen killed by MILF forces and other lawless elements.
Lawmakers questioned the sincerity of the MILF in the peace process, vowing to make proposed law free of provisions that they believe could be exploited by the MILF.
In the wake of the January 25 bloodbath, some lawmakers and critics of the BBL feared that the proposed law will be used by the MILF as an instrument for secession. The role of third-party facilitator Malaysia was also questioned because the latter has a long-standing territorial dispute with the Philippines over Sabah.
Lawmakers also vowed to make the proposed law compliant with the Constitution, citing the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain experience.
The MOA-Ad was a product of the peace talks between the MILF and the Arroyo administration which was struck down by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional.