Robredo bats for BBL, says Palawan inclusion depends on locals

File photo: VP Leni Robredo conducts dialogue with Palawan students during her visit on August 11 at Western Philippines University.

Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday assured Palaweños the inclusion of the province in the proposed new independent region under the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will depend on the decision of its locals and is not in the hands of the country’s legislators.

Visiting the province over the weekend, Robredo said that as one of those pushing for the passage of BBL in the 16th Congress when she was a representative, it was clear to them that the intention of the bill is not to impose on a territory’s inclusion.

“The parameter is that we will not [impose the BBL]. The essential question is, “gusto ba ng taga-Palawan,” said Robredo.

The bill being deliberated in the House of Representatives aims to establish an autonomous region in Mindanao that will replace the ARMM. Decades of conflict in Mindanao holds our country back in attaining its full potential and legislators believe that it is only with BBL can we attain national unity.

The province, which has a Muslim population of around seven percent, had repeatedly voted for exclusion in past referenda creating the autonomous region in Mindanao.

Article II, Section 1, of the Bangsamoro bill defined the Bangsamoro people as those “who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and their descendants, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription.”

“If we voted down the BBL, it’s just like we emptied the space for the decades-long peace talks in Mindanao,” Robredo said as she pushed for the passage of the measure.

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