By Genalyn Kabiling
A large-scale war may break out in Mindanao if the government is unable to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and pursue a shift to federalism, President Duterte warned Thursday.
The President recognized that the BBL and Charter change would help correct the “historical injustices” committed against the Filipino Muslims.
“Kung walang mangyari nito sa BBL ngayon [At this time, if nothing happens with BBL today] or we change the Constitution or do not change the Constitution at all, there will be war in Mindanao. I can assure you, mamili kayo [You choose]. Hindi ko na ma-control yan [I cannot control that],” Duterte said during the launch of the Overseas Filipino Bank in Manila.
Duterte cautioned that disgruntled Muslim groups might join forces with Islamic State if their Bangsamoro aspiration is not realized.
“It would be a double whammy because my enemy would be their friends, and who got — what would that be? It’s the ISIS,” he said.
If such scenario happens, the government would then be forced to wage war again to ensure national security, Duterte said.
“To save the Republic, so we’ll have to go to war again and this time, maybe, on a bigger scale. Losses, it will include civilians, as a matter of fact, most of these casualties would be civilians,” he said.
Duterte noted that the Moros have clamored for “a sort of severe form of decentralization” for years.
He said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari has been pushing for a federal setup after it was proposed by the previous administration of the late President Corazon Aquino.
“Hindi akin ‘yan, those were promises made to the Moro all these years. Ako lang kasi, nakikita ko, with the rise of ISIS, it becomes doubly troubling for us now,” he said.
He said the MILF and MNLF remained “faithful to the talks,” and expressed hope that “I can deliver.”
“The final decision will have to be made by the people of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said. “But I’m urging everybody to understand. It’s about time that the historical injustice committed to them also corrected,” he added.
Duterte acknowledged that some groups opposing federalism have warned “it would be a trip to hell.”
“Hindi ako makialam kung ano lang ang gusto ninyo, sige. Pero pagdating ng panahon, adre, p***** i** tapos na tayong nagusap nito, sinabi ko na sa inyo,” he said.
Earlier, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the President was prepared to issue an executive order for the creation of the Bangsamoro region if Congress fails to pass the BBL.
The bill seeking to create a Bangsamoro autonomous region remains pending in Congress despite the President’s decision to certify it as urgent.
At present, Congress is busy with the debates on Charter change to pave the way for the shift to a federal form of government.