BBL is legacy of every Filipino to future generations, say business leaders

MANILA – Business leaders today stressed the importance of the passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as the “legacy of every Filipino” to future generations.

“We have seen how conflict in Mindanao has been slowing down human and economic development in the region. We now have the opportunity to correct that through the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said.‎

A renowned businessman, Zobel de Ayala is also part of the Citizens’ Peace Council convened last March by President Benigno S. Aquino III to thoroughly study the proposed BBL and educate the public on its merits.

The Senate is set to start its deliberations on the proposed law after a substitute bill was submitted by Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to the plenary this Monday, August 10. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is still plagued by quorum woes that hamper the resumption of deliberations on the BBL. 

According to Zobel de Ayala, the BBL was crafted to accelerate social justice and human development for Mindanaoans, saying it is “a means to provide social justice and human development for all, whether Lumad, Christian, or Muslim,” and noting that its benefits will not be limited to the Bangsamoro people only.

“We are also certain that the benefits of a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro will be felt all over Mindanao and all over the country as well, so we see that the BBL will bring peace and prosperity not only for the Bangsamoro people but for all Filipinos,” he added.

“We are now in an opportune and historic time to correct injustice, enable development, and find peace in Mindanao. This kind of opportunity might not come again,” Zobel de Ayala emphasized.

“But if we are able to do all that through the BBL, it will be the legacy of every Filipino. This generation will be remembered as the one that finally ended the decades-long conflict in Mindanao,” he said.

Rolando Torres, Executive Director of the Mindanao Business Council, echoed Zobel de Ayala’s sentiment and added that the passage of the BBL is not just the legacy of the Aquino administration nor the lawmakers deliberating on the proposed legislation but of every Filipino.

“The BBL seeks to lay down a strong foundation for peace and development in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao. The benefits we foresee in terms of economic development are huge, and we expect this to benefit the whole country as well,” Torres explained.

“Through the BBL we see the Bangsamoro region and Mindanao finally catching up and even contributing to the growth of the country as a whole. If we achieve that, it will not just be a legacy of the Aquino administration, it will be the legacy of the entire Filipino nation to all other generations to come,” Torres added.

Numerous researches have highlighted the economic impact of war. In a 2005 World Bank funded research on the Mindanao conflict, it says that average economic loss during periods of high intensity war, from 1975-1982 was $200 million and the absolute cost estimate from 1997-2001 was the same. Millions were also lost during the "low intensity" period from 1983-1996 with an estimate of $2-3billlion total economic loss from 1970-2001.

Aside from economic losses, displacement of persons is one of appalling effects of war.  In data provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in their 2012 yearend report, the displacement of persons recorded due to the 2000 all-out war was 982,000 while 600,000 displacements was due to the failure of Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in year 2008.

On the other hand, a study produced by Standard Chartered, a British multinational banking and financial services company, conveyed that forging a peace agreement between the MILF and the Philippine government could boost the economic growth of the ARMM over five years, and that this will spillover to the larger Mindanao island group. National Economic Development (NEDA) officials said the passage of the BBL will attract more business investors to the region and boost economic growth in the proposed Bangsamoro region by up to 12.8% annually, thus reducing the rate of poverty.

President Benigno S. Aquino III highlighted in his message during the turnover of the proposed BBL to leaders of Congress, held on September 2014 in Malacañan Palace, that the Bangsamoro law “reflects our shared efforts towards growth that leaves no one behind” and that it will help the areas in the ARMM to catch-up in development. ###‎