Moro peace commission members visit Senate
MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed to pass the Bangsamoro basic law before the year ends, Senate President Franklin Drilon announced on Thursday.
Drilon said the agreement was reached after the Senate leadership met with its counterparts in the House led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
“All of us agreed that the enactment of the Bangsamoro basic law should be made by the end of this year, by the end of December 2014. That is our target…” the Senate leader said after a closed-door meeting with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission led by Mohagher Iqbal.
“We can try to act on it within the year, if possible… We discussed the Bangsamoro and we agreed to expedite it,” Belmonte told reporters in a separate interview at the House.
Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, presidential adviser on peace process, and Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace, also attended the meeting.
During the meeting, Drilon said the Transition Commission committed to submit its first draft of the basic law by March 31.
He said the Senate would then wait for the administration’s version of the law, which the chamber expects to receive in the first week of May.
Drilon pointed out that the crafting of the law would not require an amendment to the Constitution.
“We emphasize to the Transition Commission that the Bangsamoro Basic Law BL should be within the four corners of the Constitution. That’s the commitment of the President…that there will be no Constitutional amendments necessary,” he said.
“We’re not to saying the Bangsamo people can’t advocate for Charter change. What we’re just saying is that the basic law is not the avenue through which the amendments can be done because Congress in a debate on the basic law can’t propose amendments to the Constitution. We are limited on the four corners of the Constitution,” he pointed out.
Congress is rife with talks of a law that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the Bangsamoro entity after the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sealed a peace agreement that ended one of the longest Muslim secessionist movements in the country.
The basic law will be based on the comprehensive peace agreement to be signed by the MILF and the government.
The ARMM had been considered a failed experiment by critics especially after the peace pact with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which created the ARMM law, failed to prevent the MNLF-Nur Misuari faction from continuing the secessionist movement.
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