In his final State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Benigno Aquino III asked the Congress to help guarantee a permanent peace deal in Mindanao by passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and to limit the hold of political families on power by enacting an anti-dynasty bill.
The President told critics of the BBL not to stand in the way of change and to instead offer solutions if they can think of better alternatives that would lead to lasting peace and development in Mindanao.
“To those who oppose this measure: I believe that it is incumbent upon you to suggest more meaningful measures. If you do not present an alternative, you are only making sure that progress will never take root in Mindanao,” said the President in his SONA.
“Let me ask you: How many more of our countrymen will have to perish before everyone realizes that the broken status quo of Muslim Mindanao must change?” he added.
The House is set to resume its plenary debates on the BBL, but the measure remains stuck at the committee level in the Senate.
At the start of the third and final regular session of the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. renewed his call for the swift approval of the BBL, saying the Congress should address the long-standing grievances of the Bangsamoro people "by empowering them to fully provide for their self-expression and development."
Belmonte also said it is important that the Bangsamoro bill be crafted with a "clear and decisive legislative language to accommodate and empower" not just the Muslim majority in the envisioned Bangsamoro region, but also other groups residing and working in the area.
Mr. Aquino, who used to see nothing wrong with political dynasties, made a complete turnaround during his last SONA and urged the legislature to swiftly pass a measure that aims to ban them.
“There used to be a time when I was against depriving a person the right to run for office, just because he had a famous family name. Why would we pass legislation to stop a person who really wants to be a public servant?” the President said. “But I have realized: There is something inherently wrong in giving a corrupt family or individual the chance at an indefinite monopoly of public office.”
The President also called on the Congress to pass the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016, the Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives Bill, and the Unified Uniformed Personnel Pension Reform Bill.