Reiterating his promise to bring peace and development in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said he will sign the Bangsamoro Organic Law soon once Congress passes the legislation.
“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,” President Duterte said in his third State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 23.
“When the approved version is transmitted [to] 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,” he added.
There is a need for understanding and patience to endure and overcome the birth pains of implementing the new law, he said, noting that war is not an option.
He stressed that the conflict in Marawi was catastrophic with the public seeing its horror, devastation, and human toll and the displacement of both Christians and Muslims.
He reiterated his pledge not to allow ISIS terrorists or its allies to gain foothold in the country but made an assurance to welcome ISIS-Maute members who intend to reintegrate in the mainstream society.
The President then recognized those who made a sacrifice in liberating Marawi City.
“We owe it to our fallen soldiers and police officers in Marawi and elsewhere to put an end to the bloodshed and seek the path of true peace—a peace that will last beyond this lifetime, and whose dividends our children will reap,” he said.
The Chief Executive also vowed to pour more money in Mindanao noting that the administration is now in the process of significantly increasing the budget for the region.
“At the end of my term, I hope to see the promise of Mindanao fulfilled, or at the very least, approaching fulfillment,” he said.
On international relations, Duterte promised to continue asserting an independent foreign policy, stressing that the country’s long-term national development and national security goals will always be the priority.
He pointed out that the country’s stronger relations with China have led to an unprecedented level of cooperation between the two nations, particularly on the war against transnational crimes and illegal drugs.
Despite the improved relationship with China, however, the President said, this does not mean that the Philippines will waver in its commitment to defend its interests in the West Philippine Sea.
He noted that the Philippines has engaged China through bilateral and multilateral platforms such as the ASEAN-China and the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism to address the territorial dispute.
Stronger relations with the country’s ASEAN friends have improved security as the Philippines conducts trilateral border patrols with Indonesia and Malaysia to address sea piracy and cross-border terrorism, he added. ###PND