MANILA, Philippines – On the Day of Valor, President Benigno Aquino III used the opportunity to recall the effects of World War II and push for peace in Mindanao.
Speaking in Bataan on Thursday, April 9, Aquino encouraged the passage of the proposed Bangsamaro Basic Law (BBL) anew, citing the ill effects of war.
“In commemorating the Day of Valor, we remember the lessons of the past as to not repeat the same mistakes, and to get to where we need to be,” he said.
He went on: “What did we gain from World War II? Like we always emphasize, the damage the war brought was severe. Over one million Filipinos died…. According to reports, Manila is second to Warsaw, Poland, in the list of Allied capitals with the worst damage from the war.”
The President said the war made it clear that progress is impossible when people don’t unite.
“More suffering and misunderstanding are brought on by war, while unity will bear progress. This lesson is what pushed me further to fight for lasting peace in Mindanao, and to push for the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said.
Aquino also said now is the perfect time to pass the bill.
“Imagine: our former enemy is now our partner in finding just peace for all. In working together to restore order in Mindanao, we will improve opportunities for our countrymen. Through this, no one will be tempted to side with the radicals, the terrorists, and those who push for their own agenda.”
He added: “Two generations have suffered because of the violence in Mindanao. Now that we are here, we must not allow this to happen to future generations. How ever hard it will be, whatever difficulties we will face, we will push for peace because this is the way to achieve justice for all.”
The BBL is currently facing resistance in Congress after a bloody clash between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) resulted in the death of 44 elite cops. Lawmakers who originally backed the bill have withdrawn their support, while others question whether the timing for passing it is right. Aquino and his administration have continued to rally behind the bill and push for its passage before he steps down in 2016.
In his speech, Aquino also praised soldiers and veterans and cited government reforms in improving their benefits.
The benefits he cited for veterans include:
- The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO)’s Pensioner’s Revalidation Program, which made the list of beneficiaries more accurate
- PVAO partnership with banks, financial institutions, local civil registrars, and government agencies to improve services
- Digitization of veterans’ record
- Improved validity rate of pensioner accounts list to 99.95%
- Daily medical subsidy for hospitalized veterans and financial help for operations for cataract, coronary angiogram, angioplasty, cardiac bypass, and chemotherapeutic agents
- Educational benefits for children, with government budget reaching P305.2 million
Aquino said that, as of March, pension accounts of living veterans and of dependents of those who died have reached 198,169. He also said 8,760 veterans and their dependents have benefitted from medical services worth P81.6 million. – Rappler.com
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