MANILA – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Tuesday said he would recommend that President Rodrigo Duterte certify the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as urgent, as he underscored the need to enable a peace pact with the country’s largest Moro rebel group at the soonest possible time.
“As far as OPAPP is concerned, we will recommend that it will be certified as an urgent bill. But as you know very well, the President makes the final call,” Dureza said in a news conference in Malacañang.
Certifying a bill as urgent means its movement in Congress will be expedited.
The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.
Its passage during the previous administration was scuttled because of the Mamasapano clash, where some 44 elite cops were killed by lawless elements and some members of the MILF. It also faced questions on its constitutionality.
Dureza expressed hopes that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which wrote a new BBL draft, has learned from lessons of the past.
The government is implementing a peace deal with both the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front. The largest faction of the MNLF, led by former Sulu governor and representative Yusoph Jikiri, is supportive of the BBL. But another MNLF faction, led by founding chair Nur Misuari, wants the government to honor the 1996 final peace agreement, saying it has yet to be fully implemented.
Duterte has promised Misuari that his grievances would be addressed.
Implementing the BBL would mean abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, while the 1996 agreement would mean the enhancement of the ARMM.
Dureza said it is up to Congress to reconcile issues concerning the fractious Moro groups.
“This will all be submitted to Congress. Again, Congress cannot pass a law only for the MILF and another separate law for the MNLF. There’s only one Bangsamoro territory,” Dureza said.
“So Congress will have to look at both and then find out how they can harmonize, how they can converge both proposals,” he added.
Dureza earlier said Duterte may skip the BBL review and instead send it straight to Congress for deliberations.
“Our recommendation is that as soon as the President receives it, he will turn it over to both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. Pero recommendation namin ‘yan ha. The President can do whatever he pleases,” he said.
The BTC has finished drafting the BBL and is ready to submit it before the President delivers his State of the Nation Address on July 24.