“We will only achieve lasting peace in Mindanao if we learn to respect their (Muslim) culture and tradition.”
Thus said former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel during a forum at the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University (DHVTSU) in Bacolor town on Saturday.
Pimental issued the statement shortly after the bombing in Davao City that left 14 people dead.
Regarded as “father of the local government code,” Pimental criticized the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was drafted during term of former President Aquino. He implied that the BBL “is too complicated.”
“Why are they only talking to one group?,” said Pimentel, referring to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He said that all sectors and groups should be properly represented in the attempt to forge and achieve peace and progress in Mindanao.
Last month, the government peace panel led by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and the MILF peace negotiators met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the two-day meeting was “very fruitful.”
Pimentel came to Pampanga to promote the federal form of government pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte. He spoke in front of students, school officials and other local government executives.
The well-attended forum was hosted by PDP Laban Pampanga led by its president, Engr. Art Punsalan. Former Floridablanca
Mayor Tito Mendiola and DHVTSU President Dr. Enrique Baking welcomed Pimentel.
Pimentel said “everyone should have a clear understanding of what federalism is.” He added that there will be 14 regions under his proposal.
“The senator actually has instructions from the President to inform sectors regarding federalism and start the ‘debates’ so to speak, for the new administration to get feedback,” said Punsalan in a statement.
“The DHVTSU forum is the start and we believe that Senator Pimentel will do more campus tours if necessary in line with the President’s directive,” he added.