Meeting the House of Representatives March 2018 deadline for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be "challenging and difficult," a Mindanao lawmaker said Thursday.
Congressmen have to reconcile 4 versions of the BBL, ferret out unconstitutional provisions, and hold public consultations in at least 12 provinces, Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat told ANC's Headstart.
"We will consult the Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi areas, as well as Marawi and Zamboanga. There will be 12 to 15 areas for consultations," Lobregat said.
"We cannot present the 4 versions when we go on consultations. That is the difficulty there," he said.
Plucking out unconstitutional provisions that may "open doors for secession" may take time as terms will have to be direct and specific, he said.
"You cannot just leave it at 'self-determination.' If you do not make it clear that it is just internal (self-determination), you are giving them the opportunity to secede," Lobregat said.
Lobregat said "provisions that protect the non-ARMM areas" from being gobbled up by the Bangsamoro should also be included in the final draft that will be presented to the public.
Aside from lengthy procedures, Lobregat said the passage of the BBL might also be derailed by other proceedings such as the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the looming ouster case against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and the upcoming filing of candidacies in October.
The House of Representatives will resume sessions on January 15, but will once again go on a break for Lenten in March.
The Congress failed to pass the BBL under the term of former president Benigno Aquino III after 44 elite policemen were killed in an encounter with rebel forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.
The troops were pursuing Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was killed in the operation.