Passage of Bangsamoro Law seen by early 2015

by Marvin Sy, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 29 2014 11:43 AM | Updated as of Jun 29 2014 07:43 PM

MANILA - With the assurance of President Aquino that the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law would be submitted to Congress by the time it resumes its plenary sessions next month, Senate President Franklin Drilon is confident the measure would be approved by the first quarter of next year at the latest.

Drilon said Congress would still work on having the measure approved by the end of the year as was its original target when the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last year.

Drilon though admitted this would be a challenge because of the delay in the submission of the draft law to Congress.

“We will strive to finish this by the end of the year but because of the delay, we should have started this last May, this might happen by the first quarter of next year,” Drilon said over radio dwIZ.

Drilon said the Senate is expecting to start its deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law next month when Congress begins its second regular session.

Amid some issues raised with regard to the agreement, including the reported desire of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to incorporate the Tripoli Agreement or the elements of the peace pact between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Drilon said this should not stand in the way of the efforts of the administration to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

“What we are doing here is to bring about wide reaching peace in Mindanao and one that is acceptable to a majority of the people in Mindanao,” Drilon said.

Drilon said the MNLF is expected to create some noise about the current peace pact but he said the government is doing its best for overall peace in the entire Mindanao.

After Congress approves the Bangsamoro Basic Law, it would have to be subjected to a plebiscite in Mindanao to ensure public acceptability of the measure.

Drilon said the plebiscite could be done in 2015, or shortly after its approval by Congress.

Regardless of the fact that preparations have to be made for the 2016 national polls, Drilon said the Commission on Elections should be able to conduct the plebiscite next year.

“The elections would not be held until 2016 so there is no reason why they cannot hold a plebiscite in 2015,” Drilon said.

Just like the President, Drilon aired his confidence that the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be in place before the end of the Aquino administration in 2016.