Senate to tackle 'constitutional' Bangsamoro Basic Law by March 2018


Posted at Dec 20 2017 02:32 PM

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III speaks at a committee hearing Wednesday on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Cesar Tomambo, Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau

MANILA - A version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will adhere to the Constitution will be tackled on the Senate floor by March, senators vowed Wednesday as the Senate Committee on Local Government held its first public hearing on the proposal.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III asked his colleagues during the hearing to ensure that every provision of the BBL would be constitutional.

Pimentel issued the statement a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law would unlikely "hurdle constitutional barriers."

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the minority bloc "will rise above political partisanship" and vote for the passage of the BBL provided that all its provisions are constitutional.

The country needs the BBL to ensure stability in the region but we hope to "avoid vagueness," Drilon said.

The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law was among Duterte's campaign promises in 2016.

Deliberations on a law creating a Bangsamoro entity started under the term of former President Benigno Aquino III. But it was halted in early 2015 after 44 elite policemen died in an encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao during an anti-terror raid.

MILF vice chair Ghadzali Jaafar earlier said the BBL has a better chance to be passed under the leadership of Duterte, the first Mindanaoan president.

The MILF also gained goodwill after it played a key role in humanitarian and rescue work in Marawi when the Islamic State-linked Maute terror group laid siege on the city earlier this year, Jaafar said.

Under the legislative branch's initial timetable, public hearings and consultations will be held in January in provinces that voted to be a part of the Bangsamoro.

-- with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News.