Roxas campaigns in Duterte stronghold

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Expresses regret for using 'Muslim na mananakop'

COTABATO CITY - Administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas on Thursday came to the heartland of Muslim Mindanao to prove a point -- that contrary to voter-preference surveys, Mindanao is not solidly behind Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Roxas was welcomed by the powerful Sema clan who are members of the Liberal Party (LP), when he came to Cotabato City.

The Semas and their allies, who are running for key positions in the city, endorsed Roxas and his running mate Leni Robredo as well as their senatorial slate before a huge crowd that they assembled for Women's Month celebration.

Roxas also visited Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and attended a Peace Consultation with the Friends of Peace. In that forum, Roxas expressed regret for using the words "Muslim na mananakop" in relation to the Zamboanga siege of 2013.

READ: Mar slammed for 'Muslim na mananakop' comment

"It was simply used as an adjective. Maybe the more accurate adjective would have been MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) rogue, MNLF mananakop. I wouldn't like to belabor the point. I hope it's not trying to read something deeper than it is. It was simply a statement of fact. It has nothing to do with Christians and Muslims," Roxas said.

"There is no slight or insult intended and maybe I was using the terminology used in the early days. Remember, we were there 21 days, it was much, much came to be known as rogue MNLF. There is no dispute they were mananakop.

"On the issue of the word 'muslim," not capital M but small m, as an adjective. I regret the wrong use of words as a description. There was no slight intended to the entire region or entire Muslim community," he added.


Roxas, meanwhile, expressed openness to revisiting the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should he win as president.

He said the BBL, which was meant to institutionalize the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is a priority for his administration.

"We certainly want to preserve these gains. We have already negotiated a framework agreement, we have negotiated a comprehensive agreement. This was attempted to be institutionalized in the BBL which, unfortunately, did not pass the House and the Senate.

"Certainly, we will push for it. It will be a priority...rather than just refile the BBL. I think it's important that we sit down and have a real sincere straight honest talk so we can whatever will be refiled has a higher chance of success," said Roxas.