Press Release
March 29, 2016


Leading vice-presidential candidate Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the country's next leaders must build on the administration's gains in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to achieve an all-inclusive peace and economic prosperity in Mindanao.

According to Escudero, the search for a lasting peace in Mindanao must continue regardless of who wins in the May 9 elections in order to establish a comprehensive Bangsamoro framework that promotes true inclusivity.

"Pabor ako sa isang panukalang batas na mag-aamyenda sa ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) para mas mabigyan sila ng mas malawak na kapangyarihan pero dapat sumasang-ayon sa Saligang Batas. At ito ay dapat gawin matapos kunsultahin ang bawat stakeholder Kristiyano man o Muslim, sa loob man o sa labas ng ARMM area," Escudero said.

He added: "The next administration will have a golden opportunity to cure the glitches, loopholes and shortcomings of the proposed legislation, which we all envision to bring peace and economic development in Mindanao."

March 28 marked the second anniversary of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal signed by the government with the MILF to end the long years of armed conflict in Mindanao.

The draft BBL remains pending with both chambers of Congress mainly due to the failure of proponents to involve other stakeholders, aside from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in the consultations. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has admitted that the proposed legislation has no chance of being passed in the 16th Congress with a few session days left.

The veteran legislator said achieving lasting peace in Mindanao, which has endured decades of political and armed conflicts, must be the priority of the next administration.

"Ito ay dapat isulong sino man ang magiging pangulo, sino man ang magiging ikalawang pangulo ng ating bansa. Dahil tapos na dapat ang panahon ng paggamit ng baril, bala at bomba para resolbahin ang hindi pagkakaunawaan ng mga Pilipino. Walang katumbas pa rin ang pakikipag-usap at maayos na diyalogo," said Escudero, who is running alongside Sen. Grace Poe, the top pick of voters in various pre-election surveys, under "Gobyernong may Puso."

The independent candidate said the future framework should be an improved version of the Malacañang-backed BBL drafted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and endorsed by the MILF.

More importantly, he said, the next administration should make sure that the framework includes the applicable advocacies, positions and proposals of all stakeholders in the region.

"Dapat nakapaloob sa framework ang lahat ng pagbabago para ma-improve ang kasalukuyang sistema sa ilalim ng Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," Escudero pointed out.

"At higit sa lahat, dapat maging mas inclusive 'yung panukalang anuman ang tawag mo maging improved ARMM, amended ARMM o Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Importante na magpatuloy ang usapin at ma-improve pa natin ang ARMM," added Escudero.

This is precisely the reason, Escudero said, why he and Poe plan to allocate P1 trillion, or about 30 percent of the 2016 of the current budget, to Mindanao in their first year in office to fast-track development projects in the region and encourage businesses, if they win in the national elections.

"Layunin namin ni Sen. Grace na maglaan ng 30 porsyento ng pambansang badyet para sa Mindanao. Ito ay para iparamdam sa Mindanao na hindi lang dapat Metro Manila lagi," he said.

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