Gov’t peace panel urges lawmakers to fix ‘illegal’ BBL provisions
MANILA, Philippines–The government peace panel on Monday called on lawmakers to fix the phrasing of draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) provisions deemed unconstitutional instead of deleting them.
The panel also urged the public to give the Moro people the benefit of the doubt in their quest for peace.
“Let’s improve the language to avoid misinterpretations, but don’t entirely remove the provision because it has a purpose,” Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government peace panel, said during a seminar sponsored by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Batangas province on Sunday.
Find other names
“If the Bangsamoro commission on audit is confusing, then call it something else, an auditing body,” Ferrer said.
“Nothing will prohibit the changing of the word to properly reflect the intention of both parties,” said peace panel member Senen Bacani, a former agriculture secretary.
The peace negotiators were reacting to questions on the constitutionality of BBL provisions creating the Bangsamoro Ombudsman and commissions on audit, elections, civil service and human rights, which are national bodies provided for in the Constitution.
“Sometimes it’s not the constitutionality, the bigger issue is our attitude toward this whole problem. What we think they deserve or what we think they are capable of,” Ferrer said.
“We’re afraid that they will be more corrupt than us or they will eventually separate from us. But we don’t know what will happen later. At this point in time, [the BBL’s] goal is to keep us together,” Ferrer said.
Part of nat’l bodies
Bacani said the Bangsamoro commissions were intended to be part of the five constitutional bodies (Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, Commission on Civil Service, Commission on Human Rights and Office of the Ombudsman).
“These units—we don’t have to call them commissions, we can change the name—are intended to assist, to be part of, and not independent of the five constitutional bodies,” he said.
“If they don’t like the wording, change it. What’s important here is the emphasis of the Bangsamoro on good governance, they want to have subsidiary bodies to help them exercise this,” Bacani said.
“Because people are reading it differently, then maybe we should clean it up so it will be clear and that it will not be susceptible to challenge in the Supreme Court,” Ferrer said.
She said the objective must be considered in ironing out certain provisions of the BBL to appreciate why these were included.
The equation is not as simple as BBL equals peace, as there are other reforms to be implemented and other armed groups to deal with, Ferrer said. But it’s a big difference for the government that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is willing to participate in the political system.
“We don’t want to create more enemies who will join the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or the Jemaah Islamiyah. We are isolating the extremists and delinking them from the bigger networks,” Ferrer said.
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