House leadership dispute delays BOL ratification
A leadership challenge in the House of Representatives on Monday delayed ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that would establish a new autonomous region for Muslims in Mindanao and, many hope, bring peace and development to the war-torn island.
The Senate unanimously ratified the conference report on the BOL, but the House members adjourned their session early without ratifying the act that would serve as the charter of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Both chambers need to ratify the BOL for it to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, who had been expected to highlight the passage of the Bangsamoro charter in his State of the Nation Address to a joint session of Congress.
The President promised to sign the BOL within 48 hours of submission by Congress.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which helped write the BOL, declined to comment on the delay.
“I don’t want to comment on that. The situation is fluid,” Mohager Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, told the Inquirer.
Malacañang expressed disappointment.
“We find it unfortunate that the Bangsamoro Organic Law was not ratified before the adjournment of today’s session of the House of Representatives,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also held out hope for the ratification of the BOL in the House.
“Politically, the House is in shambles at the moment … We’ll just wait tomorrow. We’ve waited for this for a long time. One day won’t hurt,” he said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza also lamented the failure of the House to ratify the measure.
“The BOL suffered this temporary setback, as a collateral damage to an internal leadership issue in the House, but I trust and expect that in due time, the ratification, which it deserves, will take place as a matter of course,” Dureza said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he had reservations about the deletion of important proposals from the Senate-House conference report.
One, he said, is the deletion of the 40-percent development fund. Without this, he said, the money for Bangsamoro could be spent for other purposes instead of development projects.
Recto was also concerned over the deletion of the 50-50 sharing of locally generated revenue. This was increased to 75-25 in favor of Bangsamoro.
The conference report also does not require Bangsamoro to contribute anything to the national government for 10 years, he said. —WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO, JEOFFREY MAITEM, BONG SARMIENTO AND AP