Despite calls to pass on to next administration the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, told MindaNews on Sunday (August 23) that the Office of the President and the leadership of both Houses of Congress “remain committed to the enactment of a meaningful and mutually acceptable BBL within President Aquino’s term of office.”
“Towards this end, we expect legislative action to move rapidly in the next few weeks,” she said.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez also told MindaNews that they “still have time to finish the bill by September 15” (11 session days from August 24) and that “there will be quorum tomorrow (Monday) up to Wednesday.”
“I agree with Rufus,” Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur, said. “Never say die,” he told MindaNews.
Lawyer Jesus Dureza, former Representative of the 1st District of Davao City and former government peace panel chair said he expects “best efforts to pass ASAP but if not attainable, Congress as a continuing institution will pass it at its own mandated pace and time and collective judgment.”
“We should not all be transfixed at whether it is the ‘present’ or the ‘next’ administration,” Dureza.
“There significant work still needs to be done in fixing the two versions sponsored in the Senate and House of Representatives”, Tony La Vina, Dean of Ateneo School of Government said.
Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said, “You don’t quit when you’re almost there. You fight the good fight.”
“We should do this with the Aquino administration,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said on Monday.
Iqbal, also chair of the GPH-MILF Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the BBL, had pointed out that “no BBL is better than a bad BBL.”
“Let me assure you once again that the MILF will not accept a bad BBL,” Iqbal said during the “Dialogue on House and Senate Bills on BBL” organized by the
Institute of Autonomy
and Governance on August 20 at the Dusit Thani hotel in . Makati
He acknowledged the limited time left to pass the Basic Law, but added, “For me I still believe it can be done.”
Guiamel Alim, Executive Director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said that, “If you pass a weak BBL, it makes things worse. If you wait for the next administration, you don’t know who they will be”.
“But the same people in Congress who don’t like the BTC draft will still be there… Every which way is a losing proposition. To invoke UN resolution to resolve the Bangsamoro question will take generations. For now, I don’t have any proposal to move forward. I am confused, I am stressed. My hope for peace is running out,” Alim also said.
Alim said government can save face by saying the draft BBL is severely mangled “but by all indicators, Congress will pass a BBL that is acceptable to both houses of Congress and to the Supreme Court and also the larger Filipino population regardless of whether it is acceptable to the MILF and the Bangsamoro.”
“Let’s call a spade a spade,” lawyer Ishak Mastura of the Cotabato City-based Bangsamoro Study Group, told MindaNews.
“Marcos and Rufus and their ilk hijacked the BBL agenda with a watered down version less than ARMM and just a mere local government unit like a province. Marcos publicly admitted it is no longer a BBL but another thing altogether. So if we continue along the hijacked agenda what does that say about PNoy (President Aquino) and MILF and supporters of the peace process?”
Mastura cited several flaws in SB 2894 or the substitute bill filed by Marcos, among them that the ARMM under RA 9054 can legislate its own Local Government Code but the Marcos bill is silent on it.
“This makes the LGUs beyond the supervision of the Bangsamoro government and a formula for another failed autonomous region where the LGUs do not have much accountability to the regional government. As it is, the LGUs in the ARMM are already under the impression that the ARMM is a mere extra layer of bureaucracy for the LGUs because of the disconnect between the regional government and the LGUs,” he said.
The Marcos bill is “worse than the ARMM because it does not just repeat problems in the ARMM with its practically dysfunctional relations with LGUs but even exacerbates it,” said Mastura, also chair of the ARMM’s Regional Board of Investments and co-convener of the ARMM’s Promotion of Investment Sustainability Organization.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, ARMM Executive Secretary from December 2009 to December 2011 and a member also of the Bangsamoro Study Group said there is a clear attempt in SB 2894 “to change the autonomy framework.”
He explained that in the Senate version, “they clearly transferred some of the concurrent powers to reserved powers and redefined some of the powers inside the concurrent powers, making it clear that it is no longer concurrent, rather, it is reserved.”