MILF non-committal on revising BBL

The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 26 2014 09:16 AM | Updated as of Sep 29 2014 03:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal was non-committal on whether the MILF would accept changes in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

During the first hearing on the proposed law at the House Wednesday, Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat tried to elicit an assurance from him that the MILF would accept an amended Bangsamoro bill.

Lobregat said he was trying to make sure that the proposed BBL would comply with the Constitution and the laws.

“What happens if Congress amends or revises the BBL, or deletes or adds some provisions?” he asked. “Would the MILF accept it?”

In reponse, Iqbal said the MILF trusts the collective wisdom of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

''But we do not answer hypothetical questions,'' he said.

Lobregat said he intends to propose changes in the BBL that he believes would go against the Constitution and existing laws.

It’s possible that the House and the Senate might introduce changes in the proposed law, he added.

House ad hoc committee chairman Rufus Rodriguez asked presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles about Lobregat’s questions.

Deles said the government peace panel understands that both sides in the peace talks recognize the supremacy of Congress over the proposed BBL.

“The two sides are jointly on board every step of the peace process,” she said.

Committee members asked her whether the proposed parliamentary setup in the envisioned Bangsamoro region would be constitutional, considering that the country has a presidential form of government.

They also inquired about the special status to be accorded to a Bangsamoro entity.

Deles said the Constitution allows Congress to prescribe a different political system for an autonomous region, and that the proposed region would not be treated as a local government.

“It is above an LGU but not equal to the national government,” she said.

During the hearing, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. proposed that a provision be included in the proposed law prohibiting secession of the Bangsamoro region.

I have the best intention,” he said.

“I want to guarantee the integration of the Philippine territory. As a lawyer, I don’t see anything wrong with that provision.” – Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz

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