Palace: Draft Bangsamoro law now in Congress

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2017 04:32 PM

MANILA – The draft copy of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been submitted by the executive branch to Congress, a Palace official said Friday.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the draft BBL was recently submitted by the executive branch to the representatives of Congress in a meeting in Malacañang.

“Copies of the draft bill were forwarded to the Senate and to the House [of Representatives]. The matter pending is finding necessary congressional sponsorship for the draft, because that’s a bill prepared by the BTC,” Guevarra said in a chance interview with reporters.

“It’s now up to Congress to deliberate on the bill,” he added.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), submitted on July 17 its proposed BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The President had said he would certify the bill as urgent to expedite its passage.

The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014.

ANOTHER CHANCE FOR BBL

The passage of the original version of the BBL during the previous administration was scuttled because of the Mamasapano clash, where 44 elite cops were killed by the MILF and other Moros. It also faced questions on its constitutionality.

During the BTC’s submission of the draft copy of the bill to the Palace on July 17, Duterte said he will ensure that “there will be no objections [to] the provisions of all that is consistent with the Constitution and the aspiration of the Moro people.”

The government is implementing a peace deal with both the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front. The faction of the MNLF led by former Sulu governor and representative Yusoph Jikiri is supportive of the BBL. 

However, 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. That agreement led to the creation of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). 

Duterte has promised Misuari that his grievances would be addressed.

Implementing the BBL would mean abolishing the ARMM, while the 1996 agreement would mean the enhancement of the ARMM.

The President and Misuari met once again in Malacañang on Thursday, August 3. Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that during the meeting, Misuari “reiterated his commitment to participate in very peaceful means in the process of self-determination of the Bangsamoro.”

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza earlier said it is up to Congress to reconcile issues concerning the fractious Moro groups.

HISTORICAL INJUSTICES, VIOLENT EXTREMISM

MILF officials are hoping that the BBL will be passed under Duterte, which they say will help correct the historical injustices committed against the Moros.

“You have been given the unique privilege of correcting the historical injustice through the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” MILF chairperson Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said during the BTC’s submission of the BBL to Palace.

“We trust you will shepherd the passage of this law and see through the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.”

The MILF also believes that the passage of the BBL and the creation of a more independent Bangsamoro entity will stop the rise of Islamist extremists.

Analysts and supporters of the Bangsamoro cause have said the siege laid by Islamist extremists on Marawi City, in a bid to establish an Islamic State caliphate, should give the government and Congress impetus to pass the BBL.

BTC chairman and MILF first vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said the BBL is the “best antidote” to violent extremism in the Philippines.

“The anger of violent extremism feeds into the frustration of our people and take over the narrative of historical injustice so it can justify its virulent ideology,” Jaafar said during the same event.

“Because it exploits the narrative of historical injustice, it is important to address legitimate grievance.”