Ex-DA, DTI heads bat for BBL passage
A former secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and now a member of the government’s peace panel said the passage of the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) would yield economic growth not only for the whole Mindanao region, but in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as well.
ARMM, which has constantly been under security threats, prevent businesses from establishing new ventures in the region, according to former DA Secretary Senen Bacani.
Bacani said the agriculture and fishing sectors would benefit most because the ARMM is the largest producer of cassava and seaweeds in the country, 4th in corn, and 6th in coconut.
Mindanao is also the center for palm oil production in the Philippines, he said.
“Promises were made by different sectors of the society and it is time to make those promises a reality,” Bacani said in a statement released by the Peace Process Media Bureau.
“The BBL promotes inclusive economic progress and stability to which every Filipino would benefit from a s a product of peace and security in Mindanao,” she added.
Former Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DA Undersecretary Ernesto L. Ordoñez also backed the government’s position saying the BBL would not only address concerns on security in the area but also stabilize the economy of the Southern Philippines.
“Investors are looking for stability in the area. The promises [from the business sector] have been coming in since the start of the BBL discussion. If we have these companies, there will be jobs,” said Ordoñez who is also former secretary for Presidential Flagship Projects.
He said the Bangsamoro people need jobs “but there are no new jobs because of the armed conflict situation which is a concern of the business community.”
Both Ordoñez and Bacani joined calls for Congress, which is scheduled to resume sessions on Monday, January 18 to approve the controversial measure which they insist is consistent with the 1987 Constitution.
“We are calling on our congressmen and senators to pass a BBL that is consistent with 1987 Constitution and continues to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro,” Ordoñez said.
“We are talking of inclusive growth that will benefit the Moro people. It will be a shame to waste all efforts as we have come so far…Short-sighted politics should not derail this legislation,” he said.
In June last year, business leaders pledged investments worth $366-million, (P16.3-billion) for Mindanao on their assumption that the BBL would be passed into law.
However, both the Senate and House of Representatives went into a holiday break without passing the measure much to the disappointment of Palace officials.
Senate President Franklin Drilon vowed the Senate would waste no time in working on the passage of the BBL even with a tight schedule ahead of them. [Ched Romulo]
[Source: Peace Process Media Bureau, Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau]