By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is prepared to sign the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the next 48 hours when the ratified measure reaches his desk.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress, the President said he wants to review the measure creating the new Bangsamoro autonomous region before signing it into law.
“When the approved version is transmitted and received by my office… The law has been passed actually and I intend to… Give me 48 hours to sign it and ratify the law,” Duterte said in his remarks following a delay in the House ratification of the measure in time for his SONA.
“Babasahin ko pa bago ko pipirmahan. Baka may isiningit kayo diyan na hindi maganda para sa — para sa ibang tao,” he added.
The President also renewed his resolve to ensure the Bangsamoro bill would pass constitutional scrutiny. He noted that the Mindanao was at at the crossroads of history — “one road leads to harmony and peace; the other, to war and human suffering.”
“Despite all that has been said [for] or against the Bangsamoro Organic Law by all sectoral groups, I make this solemn commitment that this administration will never deny our Muslim brothers and sisters the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the Constitutional framework of our country,” he said.
He acknowledged that “loads of understanding and patience” will be needed “to overcome the brith 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 said he also plans to increase the budget for Mindanao, which has been dubbed as the “Land of Promise.”
“At the end of my term, I hope to see the promise of Mindanao fulfilled, or at the very least, approaching fulfilment,” he said.
The President issue the remarks after the signing of the proposed Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was delayed due a leadership squabble in the House of Representatives.
The Lower House adjourned its session without ratifying the priority measure amid reports of change of leadership. The Senate earlier ratified the measure during the opening fo the third regular session.
The new region seeks to replaces the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new political entity with a larger territory and fiscal autonomy.
The new law covers the existing ARMM areas (Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao), six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato later this year. The affected places must still vote in a plebiscite later this year if they are in favor of joining the Bangsamoro region.