Butuan City – As President Rodrigo Duterte pushes for the passage and approval of a new version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) being deliberated in Congress, 1st District Representative of the province of Lanao del Norte (LDN) Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo is calling for more troops to be deployed in his province.
During the second State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his pledge to push for the immediate passage of the proposed BBL, citing the government’s commitment to achieve just and lasting peace.
The final version of the BBL will replace the earlier version that was held off during the 16th Congress.
Last July 17, Duterte received the revised BBL by 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Committee.
Representative Dimaporo is lobbying for a stronger military presence for fear of a possible repeat of the August 2008 incident where forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked the province.
In a privilege speech in Congress on August 29, Dimaporo expressed his concern over the need to ensure tighter security in Lanao del Norte.
Through the House Resolution, Dimaporo asked Congress to direct the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to maintain five battalions in Lanao Del Norte. Back then, the MILF attacked following the failure of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that the government under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the MILF signed in 2008. MOA-AD failed due to opposition from different sectors in Mindanao and other parts of the country.
“August marks the 9th year since that attack. Every year, since that dreadful morning of August 8, I remind myself of the lives lost, the pain, and suffering inflicted on the people of Lanao del Norte. Tonight, I remind the nation that justice for the families has not yet been delivered. The 2008 attack of the MILF should never be forgotten. We should not forget how our province supported the peace agenda. Yet, still, they attacked the province. We should not forget that they cunningly misinformed their AFP counterparts regarding their conduct of training exercises, yet in actuality they were massing their forces for a planned attack on Kauswagan and Kolambugan. We should not forget that, although their fight is with the government they came down from the mountains with the objective to harm innocent civilians,” Dimaporo said in his privilege speech.
Dimaporo added, “with that in mind, I ask that the security of Lanao del Norte be ensured to prevent another recurrence of an MILF attack while the 17th Congress deliberates the BBL …
“What we’ve learned from the MOA-AD attack is that two battalions are not enough. The area of the province is too wide, causing one battalion to be spread too thin. It was only when five battalions arrived in the province that we were able to push back and restrain the MILF beyond the boundary of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur.”
Aside from his proposal to increase the military presence in his province, Dimaporo also filed resolutions in Congress directing the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Philippine Air Force, to convert Balo-i airport to an Air Force base to support the security forces in the area.