Bangsamoro draft law ready for Aquino | Inquirer News

Bangsamoro draft law ready for Aquino

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The transition body tasked with drawing up the proposed basic law for a new so-called Bangsamoro autonomous region following the signing of a peace agreement with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is set to submit a draft of the document to President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, according to senior MILF leaders.

“Yes, we will submit it by Monday to President Aquino,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and chief negotiator for the MILF rebels in the peace talks with the government that culminated in the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement on March 27.

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“It was a very difficult process. It went through a lot of stages,” Iqbal said of the drafting of the document.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF chief for political affairs, confirmed the transition commission will be submitting the draft basic law to Malacañang on Monday.

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“The BTC actually set March 31 as the deadline but it had to put the finishing touches to it,” Jaafar said in a phone interview.

He said the commission was continuing to refine the draft but was expected to finish everything before Monday.

The commission met its self-imposed April deadline to complete its work. After its submission to Mr. Aquino, the document will go to Congress for approval as the Charter of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region.

The President has promised to submit the draft basic law as an urgent bill when he transmits it to Congress.

The MILF has stressed the need to complete the entire peace process, including the exit agreement, within the term of Mr.  Aquino who will step down from office in June 2016.

Iqbal said that after submitting the draft law, he would be engaging the Office of the President, the Congress “indirectly,” and the public.

With Mr. Aquino as the main sponsor of the draft law, Iqbal said he could well imagine that the President would pore over it and may even make suggestions on how to improve it.

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Congress battleground

It has been suggested that after the tough peace negotiations, the next battleground for the peace process will be Congress. District representatives, especially from the provinces that will be affected by the creation of a new Muslim-led autonomous region will closely scrutinize the proposed law.

After Congress passes the basic law for the proposed Bangsamoro entity, it will be submitted for ratification in a plebiscite in those areas proposed to be included in the Bangsamoro territory. Localities that ratify the charter will comprise the administrative jurisdiction of the new autonomous entity.

Once the basic law is ratified in a plebiscite, Republic Act No. 9054, or the Organic Law that created the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), will be deemed repealed and the ARMM abolished.

The ARMM, described as a “failed experiment” by Mr. Aquino, was the result of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the main Muslim insurgency of which the MILF is a breakaway faction.

A transitional body composed of officials appointed by the President will govern the region until a full set of elected Bangsamoro Assembly members are elected and assume office on June 30, 2016.

Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus said the official ceremonies for the handover of the draft basic law to Mr. Aquino on Monday will be marked by a rally at Mendiola at 2 p.m. “to mark this significant milestone in the Mindanao peace process.”

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Bangsamoro autonomous region, Bangsamoro Transition Commission, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, BTC, Ghadzali Jaafar, Mary Ann Arnado, MILF, MILF leaders, MILF rebels, Mindanao Peoples Caucus, MNLF, Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Peace Talks, President Aquino
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