Zubiri replaces proposed BBL with approved version of BTC
After a phone call from President Rodrigo Duterte Monday, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has withdrawn his proposed Bangsamo Basic Law (BBL) and replaced it with the approved version of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
Zubiri said he was able to talk to Duterte through the latter’s special assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go. At that time, he said, the President also happened to be talking with a Moro Islamic Liberal Front panel.
“Sabi niya [Duterte] sa akin (He told me): ‘Hi Sen., I’m in front of the MILF.’ Kasi bumisita pala sa kanya ang MILF leadership kahapon (The MILF leadership visited him yesterday) and he was also asking assurance from me that we will be tackling the BBL and I gave him my utmost commitment…” he said at a press briefing in the Senate on Tuesday.
The senator said he informed the President that the Senate already conducted one hearing on BBL in December last year.
But the MILF, he said, was “hesitant” to participate in the proceeding since the bill that he filed was not the BTC version.
“So today, for the record I withdrew my original bill which is not the BTC or Bangsamoro Transition Commission version and filed today—it was just read on first reading Senate Bill No. 1646,” Zubiri said.
“This is the BTC approved version so that they will come and they will wholeheartedly participate in the deliberations on the 23rd dito sa Senado,” he said, adding that the President was “very happy” with his decision to withdraw his measure.
Zubiri, who presided over the first hearing of the subcommittee on BBL, said the panel will resume its next hearing in the Senate on January 23, and the succeeding hearings would be conducted outside the metropolis.
On January 25 and 26, he said, the hearings will be held in Cotabato City and Marawi City, respectively. And on February 8 to 11, the senator said the hearings will be conducted in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The senator reiterated his plan to have the BBL passed in the Senate by March.
During their phone conversation, Zubiri said he also asked the President to certify the BBL as an urgent measure and the latter answered yes.
The senator was also confident that majority of senators will support the passage of the measure.
“Hopefully, I get the support of the majority of my colleagues. Most of those I spoke to, gave their support. There’s only a few, maybe two or three, (who) are a bit hesitant but the majority are fully supportive of the BBL,” Zubiri said.
He initially refused to identify those “hesitant” on BBL but said one of them questioned the possibility that the proposed Bangsamoro entity would be allowed to purchase firearm and military equipment.
Zubiri said he assured his colleague though that Congress can insert into the law that the Bangsamoro entity could not use its money to purchase weapons.
Besides, he pointed out that under the BTC version, the police of the Bangsamoro entity would still be placed under the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines would still be retained.
When pressed further to name those hesitant to support the measure, Zubiri named Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an opposition member and a known critic of Duterte. /je
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