MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. yesterday vowed swift action on the proposed Bangsamoro law that President Aquino has promised to submit soon to Congress.


Belmonte told reporters that he expects no serious opposition to the creation of a Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).


He said he was sure that government negotiators could fully explain the proposed law and the various agreements they have forged with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), including the wealth sharing agreement between the proposed Bangsamoro region and the national government.


“As usual, there will be pros and cons. But I am very confident that as long it can be shown to us to be a reasonable thing and that it would finally end decades of conflict, which is really one of the things holding back the development of our country, I am confident that the House will carry it,” he said.


Belmonte expressed his opinion that the creation of the Bangsamoro entity would not require an amendment of the Constitution.


Newly elected ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman has said he would step down the moment the officers of the new Bangsamoro region are chosen under the law that Congress would enact.


Hataman’s wife Sitti Djalia Turabin, representative of the party-list group Anak Mindanao, said she has no doubt that members of the House, both Muslim and non-Muslim, would support the passage of the Bangsamoro law.


Turabin said Aquino’s endorsement of the creation of the new region in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday “is proof of his commitment to the attainment of elusive peace in Mindanao.”


“The highlight for me was his commitment to the peace process, the call for Congress to support it and the assurance that what the Bangsamoro basic law will contain will be deliverable,” she said.


“I think for now, we should support the negotiations and applaud the fact that both parties reached an agreement, particularly on wealth sharing. It is not the time to be negative about the figures. Let us be thankful that both parties continue to talk; eventually, it will be the people who will decide the fate of the Bangsamoro region,” Turabin stressed.


Administration lawmaker Sen. Teofisto Guingona III also expressed his support for the Bangsamoro basic law.


“As a representative of the people from the Mindanao region, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not do my part in making lasting peace a reality for our fellow Filipinos in the South,” Guingona said.


“The time to make peace a reality is now, and we will start by passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the 16th Congress,” he said.


The proposed Bangsamoro law is one of five pieces of legislation that President Aquino endorsed to Congress in his SONA. – Jess Diaz with Christina Mendez, Jose Rodel Clapano/Philippine Star

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