Legislators and local government officials a light moment by taking a group photo after the conduct of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) consultation held at the Mindanao Civic Center gymnasium in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, on Thursday. In the photo are Lanao del Norte 1st District Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo and her mother, Provincial Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo. Taking the photo is Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali, House committee chair on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity. Sahali presided the proceedings of the BBL consultation. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)

LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Lower House lawmakers said they are optimistic to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in time for the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte this July.

According to Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali, House committee chair on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, they are now fine-tuning all the provisions of the BBL and expect to finish it next month before submitting it to the plenary for approval this May.

“We hope [the plenary] can pass it before the adjournment,” Sahali told reporters after the conduct of the consultative meeting with local government officials and other stakeholders at the Mindanao Civic Center gymnasium in this town on Thursday.

On Friday, Sahali and other committee members were in Marawi City to wrap up the last leg of the BBL consultation held in the Lanao provinces.

At present, the concerned committees have deliberated on the 13th article of the BBL, which includes the Bangsamoro economy and social justice, equitable and social development, among others.

She said the President wanted to have the BBL passed before July so he could present it during his Sona.

The BBL is a “top priority legislation,” Sahali said, noting that all the concerned committees are working hard to iron out any issues in the proposed legislation.

As a result, some of the legislators involved in the fine-tuning of the BBL had “gotten sick” due to the marathon meetings.

“It was physically very tasking, an emotional journey for all of us,” Sahali said.

Once passed into law, the BBL would lead to the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but with more features.

During the consultation in Tubod, leaders from the civil society, local government, and religious sectors voiced out their stance on the BBL.

Acmad Guro, an imam from Matungao, Lanao del Norte, said once the BBL is approved, it will be a “win-win solution to the Bangsamoro problem” as he asked government officials not to repeat the mistakes of the past administrations who failed to address the issues and concerns of the Moro people.

He cited the all-out combat offensives of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who waged war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during their terms.

For his part, Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia raised the BBL provision on “contiguous territory” and wanted BBL proponents to make a clear delineation of boundaries of the new Bangsamoro region.

“The territory of the Bangsamoro should be definite and should not be increased or changed in size by annexing adjacent areas,” Regencia said.

But Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo said the national government must conduct another round of information dissemination especially in areas that will be affected once the BBL is enacted into law.

“There should be more information campaign as there are still people who don’t understand the BBL,” the governor said. (davaotoday.com)

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