Image source: VOA
MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (left) at a ceremony with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. The MILF group signed a peace deal with the Philippine government last year. Photo: AP

According to President Benigno Aquino III, the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will probably stop the growth of extremism in the country, following growing numbers of local terror groups pledging support for ISIS.

President Aquino who was in Italy for a state visit said that a Vatican official praises the Philippine government for pushing the passing of the BBL, as it is seen as a driver for peace.

“I think it was the Secretary of State of the Vatican who was saying that we can serve as an example of how to reach out to our Muslim brothers and achieve peace, and especially in the spirit where extremism is such a threat worldwide, that example might be useful to others to build upon as a response to the radicalization that is happening,” he said.

Aquino said that BBL can stop local terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf from becoming an extremist groups.

“We also mentioned that the Abu Sayyaf, for instance, claims that they were once part of the Al Qaeda network. Now they claim that they are part of the ISIS network, and if there is another group that comes up, I assume they’ll also be—they will claim also being the local affiliate,” he said.

“But we did emphasize that, to a large degree, they are more of a bandit group rather than a religious ideological group. And we are hoping that it doesn’t move in that direction that’s why (there is) the continuous effort (on the) BBL,” he added.

In spite the fact that he has only few months left as president, Aquino is still confident that BBL will be passed by Congress.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), when passed, would establish a proposed new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao, replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is the peace agreement signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. -John Esconde