Duterte meets Moro leaders amid BBL concerns

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2018 01:57 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday evening met with Moro leaders, a day after airing concerns over how the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law can unite an ethnically diverse Bangsamoro region.

In photos released by the Palace, Duterte is seen holding a meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Ghazali Jaafar, and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

The meeting came a day after Duterte, in a speech in Sulu, expressed doubts whether the proposed BBL would bring about a united Bangsamoro region. 

The BBL is aimed at giving greater autonomy to the region, long plagued by unrest due to what Moro leaders call historical injustices that remain unaddressed.

“Nangangamba ako. Would it do well to mix it all in one pot. Meaning to say, kayo bang mga Joloano handa na mamumuno ang isang Maranao?” he said in his speech in Patikul town.

The President has been repeatedly stressing that failure to address the concerns of Bangsamoro, who are rooting for his administration to pass the BBL, might lead to more trouble in Mindanao.

Heeding Duterte’s wishes, congressional leaders have promised to pass the BBL by the end of May this year.

In his speech Monday, Duterte said even as Congress works on passing the proposed BBL, he remains “ignorant” of the “true sentiment” of the Bangsamoro people.

He cited, for instance, how the different ethnic groups can come together under one Bangsamoro region. 

He said an ethnically diverse region might call for a divided Bangsamoro entity with separate governing authorities.

“‘Yan ang problema kung ngayon while the BBL is being processed in Congress. Pagdating ng panahon, who heads what? Magkanya-kanya ba o pwede bang isang ilagay mo sa isang governing authority and who would it be?” he said.

“Kasi I do not see any problem… with Maranao, Maguindanao o Iranun --- parang same language ‘yan. Pero pagdating dito sa baba, mga --- pati ‘yung Davao, ‘yung Kagan, the Sama, Yakan, Tausug, would it also be good? Whether we do it by the regions of the tribe or iba dito and a separate governing authority. I have to fathom it.”

Despite his concerns over the matter, Duterte said he remains committed to resolve the Bangsamoro issue within the year or under his term.

“That’s why I need to talk to you and I want to finish it at this year, ngayon na… I want it solved to the best way that is acceptable to everybody,” he said.