MANILA - Former president Benigno Aquino III on Saturday hailed the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which gives wider self-rule to the Muslim minority in the south.
Aquino forged a 2014 peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front that called for a self-rule law. He failed to get Congress to pass the measure before he stepped down in 2016.
"Natutuwa tayo na mayroon na tayong batas na puwede mong sabihing 'panibagong pag-uumpisa.' Iyung pinakasimple siguro nating puwedeng intindihin ito, kung iyung equation mo pareho nang pareho, hindi ka puwedeng mag-isip na magbabago iyung resulta," Aquino told reporters.
(We are happy that we now have a law that you can dub as 'a new start.' Perhaps the simplest analogy here is an equation. If it remains the same, you cannot expect the result to change.)
"Kung wala tayong pagbabago, ganoon na lang ba na 'pag tiningnan ang Mindanao, lalo iyung ARMM, puro patayan, puro lamangan, puro karahasan. Kung ayaw natin iyun, baguhin natin iyung equation. Itong Organic Law ang magpapa-umpisa ng paraan para tugunan iyung kanilang mga suliranin sa paraang angkop sa kanila at pinaniniwalaan nila," he added.
(If there is no change, can you expect that when you look at Mindanao, especially ARMM, all you'll see are killings, taking advantage of one another and violence. If we don't want that, we should change the equation. This Organic Law will pave the way to solve their problems in a way that is fit to their needs and in which they believe in.)
Under Aquino, Congress halted debates due to public outrage over the deaths of 44 police commandos in a botched anti-terrorism raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015. Some provisions in the Bangsamoro law's earlier versions also faced questions on constitutionality.
Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, inked the Bangsamoro Organic Law last Wednesday, meeting his self-imposed deadline.