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BBL “Symbol of Peace” in Muslim Mindanao

JOLO, SULU, Philippines – A Sulu youth holds a flaglet proclaiming his support to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the Notre Dame of Jolo College, 8 Feb. 2018, where five senators flew in from Manila to conduct a hearing on the BBL with the constituents. Senator Win Gatchalian expects the Senate to pass a version of the BBL which is constitutionally sound and responsive to the needs of the Bangsamoro people. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

After listening to the opinions voiced by stakeholders during public consultations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law held in Muslim Mindanao over the past few days, Senator Win Gatchalian said it is apparent that the BBL is supported by a majority of the potential constituents of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

“Generally, the people of Muslim Mindanao seem supportive of the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. The BBL has quickly become a symbol of peace in the region, especially among the youth – a rallying point for genuine change, a sign of a brighter future for this war-torn and impoverished land,” said Gatchalian, the vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government.

Gatchalian was one of several senators who participated in public consultations held by the local government committee in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga City on Thursday and Friday. The consultations were led by senators Sonny Angara, chairman of the local government committee, and Migz Zubiri, the BBL sub-committee chairman.

Despite the strong public support for the BBL in Muslim Mindanao, however, Gatchalian said there is still a lot of work left to do before the Senate could approve the bill.

“We are still in the process of really dissecting the contentious provisions of the measure. Our task now is to refine the wording of the law to avoid misinterpretations and controversies that might arise once the bill is passed into law,” he said, adding that stronger safeguards against corruption must be worked into the final draft of the law.

Overall, Gatchalian remains optimistic that the Senate will be able to pass a version of the BBL which is constitutionally sound and responsive to the needs of the Bangsamoro people.

“These public consultations have inspired me to contribute as much as I can to the crafting of the BBL. The clamor for the passage of this law was so loud in most areas we went to, it was almost deafening. Our Moro brothers and sisters, especially the youth, have such high expectations for the BBL. We shouldn’t let them down,” he said.