Thursday, June 22, 2017

New BBL ready for submission to Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 22): New BBL ready for submission to Duterte

The 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is set to submit on June 28 the new version of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to President Rodrigo Duterte in MalacaƱang.

The submission comes three months after President Duterte has created the expanded BTC to draft the new version of the BBL, which is the legal foundation for the creation of a new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region here in Mindanao.

“The new BBL is in steps with legal and constitutional reform as directed by the President. It already harmonized the two peace agreements (1996 Final Peace Agreement and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro). It also incorporated new provisions taken from the suggestions of Congress in the past BBL,” BTC Commissioner Jose Lorena said on Thursday.

Lorena described the new BBL as an enhance version of the previous one that failed to pass Congress due to the Mamasapano incident in January 2015.

“This is an enhance version, and also in the context of the proposed constitutional move to change for a federal system,” Lorena said.

“It is also inclusive because the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is part of the BTC,” he added referring to three BTC commissioners who represent the MNLF.

The creation of the BTC is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The BBL is needed to repeal the current organic law, Republic Act 9054, to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region with a parliamentary form of government.

The BTC formally started their session on March 6 and ended on June 16.

“We only have five plenary sessions, of two to three days, but our working committees were working double time,” Lorena said.

The MILF said in a statement on Thursday that the original date of the submission of the new BBL draft was June 16 “but the President was still on leave reportedly due to the Marawi City crisis, which he had to attend to hands-on.”

“The submission will take place right at the presidential palace in Manila with no less than the President himself receiving the official copy of the BBL,” it said, noting that the event will also jive with the celebration of the Eid’l Fit’r, marking the end of Ramadan.

BTC Commissioner Ibrahim Ali, who is also a member of the MILF central committee, said that the “passage into law of the BBL will greatly give those pushing for the peaceful resolution of the conflict the moral high ground over those who are advocating for the use of force including those using ‘terrorism’ to solve this conflict.”

“Right now, the MILF is finding a hard time in combating the harsh and radical stance of the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom fighter), Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group,” Ali said.

“Their advocacy is very attractive to the youth and those frustrated over the failure of government to deliver the BBL,” he added.

Both Lorena and Ali are optimistic that the enhanced version of the BBL will pass legal scrutiny of both houses of Congress.

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