MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said he is studying the possibility with lawmakers of making the Bangsamoro homeland patterned after Hong Kong, a special administrative region which is part of China but controls several affairs on its own.
“Nag-uusap kami kagabi, sabi ng mga senador, maybe we can work out a plan like Hong Kong vis-à-vis with the mainland [China]. Parang local autonomy na lang talaga. Ibibigay na lang natin sa kanila the local autonomy and let it thrive on its own,” Duterte said in a speech in Taguig City.
“We have to… if you want a demarcation line, fine. If you want the boundary states, okay lang sa akin. But we have to find a way to get out of this problem now.”
Duterte revealed this proposed model of government as he stressed the need to resolve issues hounding the Bangsamoro region.
“There is no way that we can find peace forever if we do not give them back at least a part of that heritage,” Duterte said.
“Sila ‘yung nauna doon eh. So you have to give back to the Muslims the heritage, the culture and land and all. ‘Pag hindi ‘yan naibigay, sasabihin ko na sa inyo, gugulo ang Mindanao.”
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim separatist group, has been seeking the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which aims to create a separate Bangsamoro political entity with enhanced autonomy.
The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014. It was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which formally turned over a revised version of the draft measure to Malacañang last July 17.
The executive branch has already transmitted a copy of the BBL to Congress. An earlier version had failed to pass under the previous administration due to constitutional issues.
MILF officials are hoping that the BBL will be passed under Duterte, saying this will help correct historical injustices committed against the Moros.
The MILF also believes the passage of the BBL and the creation of a more independent Bangsamoro entity will stem the rise of Islamist extremists in Mindanao.
Analysts and supporters of the Bangsamoro cause had said the siege laid by Islamic State-inspired terrorists on Marawi City in a bid to establish an Islamic State province in the country should give the government and Congress more reason to pass the BBL.