(philstar.com) | Updated December 20, 2017 – 1:25pmCabico
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators have voiced support for passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law at a public hearing on the proposed law Wednesday.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate sub-committee on BBL chair, promised that the measure will be ready for plenary debate by March 2018.
“Marathon hearings” will be conducted starting January, he added.
The BBL implements the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The measure seeks to create a new region in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which will have more autonomy but will also remain a part of the Republic of the Philippines.
“As a Mindanaoan, I promise you, ladies and gentlemen, that I will give my utmost priority [for] the passage of this measure,” Zubiri, who is from Bukidnon, said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said that the passage of the Bangsamoro law is no longer a matter of debate. He pointed out, however, that lawmakers must ensure that the proposed law — the draft of which was prepared by a Malacañang-created commission and presumably reviewed before being endorsed to Congress by the Palace — must adhere to the Constitution.
President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s first president from Mindanao, had earlier promised to shepherd the bill through Congress, which has shown a willingness to vote according to his policy statements.
“I do not think that it will hurdle constitutional barriers…I’ve been reading it repeatedly,” he said on Tuesday, however.
This was a step back from Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address in 2016, when he urged Congress to pass the law and correct a historical injustice to the Moro people.
“We all want this,” Pimentel, a Mindanaoan, said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon likewise expressed the minority bloc’s support for the actualization of BBL.
Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, who was present at the hearing, is hoping that they will “come out with a total output, not only of the Senate, but of the Filipinos.”
MILF not threatening to go to war over Bangsamoro Law
Should Congress fail to pass the proposed law, the Moros would go to war, the chief executive warned.
The 16th Congress failed to pass BBL during the Aquino administration and neither the MILF nor the MNLF — factions of which support the passage of the law — went to war. Collaboration between the government and the MILF against bandits and drug traffickers in Moro communities has also expanded since then.
Moro leaders have been saying since 2015, however, that passage of the law will help temper resentment and delayed development in the region.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice-chairman Ghazali Jaafar, who is also chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, said some sectors may lose faith in the peace process if the government does not fulfill its commitment to implement the Comperehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.