EU keeps faith, backs peace with P272M | Global News

EU keeps faith, backs peace with P272M

DAVAO CITY—The European Union’s (EU) continuing support, including fund aid, to Mindanao does not hinge on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), according to the EU ambassador to the Philippines.

“The European Union is impressed by the fact that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) commitment to the peace process despite the delay in the adoption of the Bangsamoro Basic Law has not changed,” Ambassador Franz Jessen said in a statement on Thursday.

Jessen said that the EU was inspired by this firm resolve for peace and was very ready and eager to support the calls for a negotiated political settlement in Mindanao.


He cited the recent launch of a program in support of the peace process, for which the EU provided some P272 million.


Jessen said the program aims to help in the smooth transition and create conditions for the establishment of the autonomous region of the Bangsamoro and the election of its government.

The program will contribute to peace building and conflict mitigation, support the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and strengthen local institutions and political processes, he said.

Jessen said that despite the challenges encountered in the peace process, the EU has decided to continue its funding to support peace and development in Mindanao.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao lauded the EU and other donor agencies for their continued belief in and support of the Mindanao peace process.

Hataman said he was confident the BBL would be passed before President Aquino steps down from office.

The BBL has stalled in the Senate and the House of Representatives.


Terminate interpellation

Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Sunday expressed optimism that plenary debates on the bill would be finished by Dec. 16, paving the way for the period of amendments and a vote on second and third reading next month.

“I’m confident we can terminate the interpellation this week,” Belmonte said in a text message.

On Tuesday, President Aquino met with both administration and opposition lawmakers to discuss the dimming prospects of the BBL, following a lack of quorum which was blamed for the delay.

Belmonte said the meeting left the House members with “differing perceptions” on the BBL in what seemed to be a euphemism for continuing resistance among the lawmakers.

“[President Aquino] felt it was his obligation to the welfare and future of the Philippines. The reaction of each congressman is still his own,” Belmonte said.


The BBL, an offshoot of a peace deal signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last year, is seen to end decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. The bill will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and establish a new self-governing body.

But its passage in Congress has been hampered by a number of complications, including quorum problems and lingering opposition from lawmakers in the wake of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano encounter.

That incident left 44 Special Action Force commandos and 17 MILF fighters dead, triggering wide public outrage.

In an interview over dzBB radio, chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer implored the lawmakers to pass the BBL before the campaign season.

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“Each day that passes, hope is shrinking,” she said. “Especially when January comes. It’s already difficult to muster a quorum now, what more in January in the thick of election fever? That’s our reality.”

TAGS: Bangsamoro basic law, European Union, Features, Global Nation

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