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Friday, June 19, 2015

Amended BBL ensures Zambo City’s exclusion – Usec. Lorena

By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The amendment done by Congress to the “opt-in anytime” provision of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), now known as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will ensure the city’s exclusion to the Bangsamoro.

Thus, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Jose Lorena declared, “this forecloses the possibility of Zamboanga City to be included.”

Recently, Congress made certain amendments to the draft BBL, which maintains that contiguous Bangsamoro areas should only cover land, and not sea. Zamboanga City Congressman Celso Lobregat has been pushing for this and other amendments with regards to the opt-in anytime provision.

Had the amendment not been made, the city could anytime be made a part of the Bangsamoro through a plebiscite since it is contiguous to the nearby island provinces of Basilan, which is also part of the Bangsamoro.

Many Zamboangueños have been concerned over the original provision, given that they have constantly expressed not to be part of the Bangsamoro now or anytime in the future.

According to Usec. Lorena, only three provinces are now contiguous areas after the amended provision which includes Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Meanwhile, he said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is still very optimistic on the passage of the bill. However, in the event that the bill will not be passed anytime soon, “the MILF will not be going back to ‘one’”. “The MILF and the Bangsamoro Development Authority has already engaged the European Union, Norway and other countries for trade,” he said, which is an indication of their commitment to promote peace and development in the region.

“The South is a gateway to the ASEAN,” Usec. Lorena said, “that is why we must ensure that there is peace and stability in the region.”

He had emphasized that presently, Mindanao has already attained a level of peace, and the primary purpose of the BBL is to ensure a “long lasting peace” in the region.

“We hope that what will come out is a good law, a genuine autonomy,” he said.