DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza announced Tuesday that the draft of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law will finally be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 17, seven days before the State of the Nation Address and a day earlier that was previously set by the Palace.
“I’d like to let you know that the turnover of the output of the BTC will happen at 5:30 in the afternoon of July 17 here in the Palace. The BTC will turn over to the President the copy of their work that had been done over the past few months,” Dureza said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
The 114-page and 18-article draft BBL was crafted by a 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission that was launched on February 24 here. The members of the BTC were all appointed by President Duterte.
The BBL will be the enabling law of the negotiated political agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on March 27, 2014, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
It will create the new political entity called the Bangsamoro, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The previous draft of the BBL submitted to then President Benigno Aquino III in 2014 had 97 pages and 19 articles.
Dureza said they are recommending that as soon as the President receive the proposed BBL he will turn it over to the Speakers of the Congress and Senate who have the “full mandate and authority to deal on a bill.”
“The President’s decision will come only when both would pass a bill into law and he will be asked either to approve it or veto it. That is the point of touch for the President,” Dureza explained.
“Ang recommendation is unlike ‘yung ginawa sa previous administration na ‘yung proposed BBL eh tininker (tinker) muna, inayos-ayos muna ng Palasyo bago ipinadala sa Kongreso. Our recommendation is that as soon as the President receives it, he will turn it over to the Speaker of the House and both the Senate President,” he said.
But he said “the President can do whatever he pleases” should he find it necessary to review the bill first before sending it to the Congress and the Senate.
“Baka the President may have his own wisdom of doing what he thinks is best under the circumstances,” he added.
During his speech in Baguio City on March 11, Duterte previously said that he will “study” the bill first before sending it to Congress.
Dureza said that Congress will be the “final arbiter” of the BBL, but he said they are confident that the new BTC have taken into account “learning from the past lessons.”
During the previous administration, the Congress adjourned without passing the BBL.
Meanwhile, Dureza said they are hoping that the proposal from the separate panel that is engaging with Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari will make it in time when the new BBL draft reaches Congress.
“‘Yung sa MNLF, kasi ang ating roadmap magko-converge sana. Eh baka maya mahuli at nauna ‘yung BBL at na-approve ang BBL eh baka huli na ‘yun. Kaya nga we’re hoping that magkaabutan doon sa Kongreso,” Dureza said.
He said they are not giving timelines when both the MILF and MNLF tracks should be submitted to converge both proposals into one law.
“Their recommendation, I think, will deal more on how to amend or revise Republic Act 9054 or the ARMM Law. Again, Congress cannot pass a law only for the MILF and another separate law for the MNLF. There’s only one Bangsamoro territory and nation they call it,” he said.
The Philippine government and the MNLF have signed in 1996 the Peace Agreement, however issues with its implementation still remain, Dureza said.(davaotoday.com)