Public misinformed about BBL, says peace panel head
MANILA, Philippines – A survey which found that 4 in 10 Filipinos are against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is based on the views of a public "misinformed" about the contents of the bill.
This was the reaction of government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to the Pulse Asia Research Inc survey which showed that 44% of Filipinos reject the BBL, with the highest level of disagreement found among those who will receive the most impact from its passage – Mindanao residents (62%).
In a statement released on Thursday, March 19, Ferrer also made an appeal to the media: "Public awareness on the Bangsamoro Basic Law is based on misinformation on the actual contents of the BBL. If you ask people if they want the Bangsamoro to have a separate police and army and not be audited by the COA, naturally they will say no. If you ask them if they want the Bangsamoro to separate from the country, you will get the same answer."
"But that is not what the BBL says. What the BBL provides is the exact opposite. We hope that the mass media will help us correct all the misinformation," she added. (READ: Coronel hits 'top 2 trending lies' on BBL)
The Pulse Asia survey was conducted a month after the police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao - a known bailiwick of rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – to arrest wanted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir (Marwan) and Abdul Basit Usman that resulted in the death of 44 elite cops, 18 Moro rebels and 5 civilians.
The incident raised persistent questions on the accountability of President Benigno Aquino III over the operation as lawmakers questioned the sincerity of the MILF in the peace process. The MILF signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.
In the aftermath of the Mamasapano clash, both the Senate and the House suspended deliberations on the BBL.
A product of the peace deal between the government and the MILF, the proposed law seeks to create a new autonomous government in Mindanao with greater political and fiscal powers than the current one in place.
But aside from the political fallout that has jeopardized its passage, constitutional questions have also been raised against the bill, with opponents saying that it is creating a substate. The House of Representatives has said it is set to delete provisions on the bill that may not be constitutional.
While the BBL faces adverse public sentiment across the country, it continues to have the support of the international community.
A total of 78 foreign and local groups have pledged their support for the measure. In a statement, the groups condemned the Mamasapano bloodbath but appealed to the House and the Senate to honor the government-MILF peace accord.
"The international community continues to look up to the Philippines as a leader in the pursuit of peace and justice and in women’s participation in political and peace processes at all levels. It also stands ready to provide support in order to translate the words of the peace agreement into realistic actions. The Filipino people deserve nothing less than the fulfillment of the promise of long lasting peace," the groups said.
Signatories to the statement include groups from Nepal, Sweden, Indonesia, Congo, Timor Leste, Thailand, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Spain, Liberia, Uganda, Colombia, South Sudan, Netherland, Colombia, Kenya, Fiji, Norway, Burundi, United States, United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, Kyrygyztan, Pakistan, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Palestine, Japan, Cameroon, Burma and Armenia. – Rappler.com