MANILA -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday expressed optimism that the signing of the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on July 26 will usher in a new era of peace in Mindanao.
Lorenzana said the government is ready to start the implementation of important provisions of the new law, including the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, and the possible integration of qualified individuals to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
"The DND (Department of National Defense) is ready to assist our fellow Filipinos in the Bangsamoro to start their lives anew, heal the wounds of conflict, and end our people's divisiveness after decades of fighting," he said in a statement.
With the BOL expected to bring commerce, trade, and industry developments in the region, including increased delivery of government services to communities in Mindanao, the defense chief expressed confidence that the root causes of violent extremism and terrorism, such as poverty, lack of education, and social injustice, will be adequately addressed.
"I now call on the remaining groups still fighting the government to follow the path of peace just like the MILF and MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front). Through our localized peace efforts, we remain committed to achieve peace, even with members of the Communist Terrorist Group, and pursue the peace agenda of our President who is walking the extra mile to unite the people as one nation," he added.
He cited as proof the thousands of former communist rebels, who have returned to their families to live their lives in peace with the help of such government programs as the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.
"Together with our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro, we will show the world that violence and terror do not have a place in our communities, and as Filipinos we can work together to achieve just and lasting peace," Lorenzana said.
The BOL seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The bicameral panel approved the reconciled version of the BOL last July 18 after six days of marathon hearings.
The bill provides for the 75-25 wealth-sharing term in favor of the Bangsamoro, increasing its share in government tax revenues by 5 percent compared to the current 70 percent being received by the ARMM from national internal revenue taxes, fees, and charges, as well as taxes imposed on natural resources. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency