MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will sign the Bangsamoro Organic Law in 48 hours.
Duterte made the promise during his third State of the Nation Address, stressing he “made a solemn commitment” that the government “will never deny our Muslim brothers and sisters the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the Constitutional framework of our country.”
"Give me 48 hours to sign it and ratify the law. Babasahin ko muna bago ko pipirmahan, baka may isiningit kayo diyan," he said in jest.
(Give me 48 hours to sign it and ratify the law. I will read it first before signing it because you may have inserted something in it.)
The government has dubbed the Bangsamoro law, which will grant greater autonomy to the Muslim-populated areas in Mindanao, as a means to rectify “social injustices” committed against the Bangsamoro people.
Duterte, the country’s first Mindanaoan president, said that with the Bangsamoro Organic Law a step closer to becoming a reality, Mindanao is now at a crucial juncture in its history, where “one road leads to harmony and peace; the other, to war and human suffering.”
“We will need loads of understanding and patience to endure and overcome the birth pangs or pains of the new beginning. To me, war is not an option. We have been through the catastrophe in Marawi. We have seen the horror, the devastation, and the human toll and the displacement of both Christians and Muslims alike,” he said.
Duterte was supposed to sign the proposed measure today but this did not happen as the House adjourned session before it could be ratified.
The Senate ratified the reconciled version of the bill.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier described the House’s failure to ratify the bill in time for Duterte’s third SONA as a “temporary setback in the administration’s goal of laying the foundation for a more genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao.”
“We find it unfortunate that the Bangsamoro Organic Law was not ratified before the adjournment of today's session of the House of Representatives,” Roque said in a statement.
“We, however, remain confident that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Organic Law as soon as both houses of Congress finally ratify the bill.”
Speaking to reporters, Roque said the Palace remains confident that there are enough numbers in the House to pass the proposed law.
He said the signing of the BOL was supposed to be the “surprise” of the President during his SONA.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the lower chamber’s failure to ratify the BOL has nothing to do with the proposed measure itself, but due to “leadership issues internal to the House of Representatives.”
“The BOL's non-ratification came when the House suddenly adjourned and it had nothing to do at all with some substantive issues of the proposed law,” Dureza said in a statement.
“The BOL suffered this temporary setback, as a ‘collateral damage’ to an internal leadership issue in the House but I trust and expect that in due time, the ratification which it deserves, will take place as a matter of course.”