Monday, October 25, 2021

Ex-generals still apprehensive about draft BBL

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III apparently failed to fully convince some retired police and military generals to support the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a regular press briefing in MalacaƱang Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President invited and met in the Palace on Monday some retired generals who earlier expressed opposition to the proposed measure through a full-page newspaper advertisement recently.

While the retired generals fully support the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), however, they continued to have reservations on some provisions of the Bangsamoro bill.

"At the end of the meeting that lasted for more than two hours, retired Lieutenant General (Edilberto) Adan thanked the President and reiterated that, despite the reservations they expressed on provisions of the draft BBL, they fully support the government's initiative to build enduring peace in Mindanao," Coloma said.

Aside from Adan, president of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (Agfo), former Defense Secretary Renato de Villa, along with some 15 other former generals, were also present in the meeting with the President and other Cabinet officials.

Coloma said during the meeting, most of the questions revolved around the implementation of the decommissioning and normalization process of the MILF forces, which was clarified in detail by Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained that the budget allocation for the proposed Bangsamoro region is based on historical need as reflected in the existing budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), he added.

"The President thanked them for accepting his invitation to the meeting and asked them to air their concerns. He said that the baseline from which the peace negotiations started were the provisions of RA 9054 or the Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," he said.

The President was also joined in the meeting by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri. (SDR/Sunnex)

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