Bangsamoro law’s passage depends on the annexes’ details — Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — What’s taking Malacañang so long from forwarding the draft Bangsamoro basic law to the Senate?
Responding to the clamor for the passage of the draft law carving a new, autonomous Bangsamoro region, Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the Senate could not act on it because the Palace has not submitted the draft law to Congress for approval.
“I’m happy that some of Muslim brothers are calling on us to pass it. But it’s a little bit premature because they haven’t submitted the draft law,’’ Cayetano said by phone.
Otherwise, senators have been eagerly awaiting the submission of the draft law that Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. predicted would be passed by year-end, Cayetano said.
Cayetano, however, said its approval by year-end would depend on its provisions and its implications.
“It’s the details that will be important,’’ he said. “There are a lot of questions regarding the annexes. The annexes will come to life depending on how the law is written. If the law is very articulate and it will answer many questions to the satisfaction of the lawmakers, then it will be speeded up. But if it will raise questions, it can be delayed.’’
The Transition Commission, headed by Mohagher Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, submitted the draft law to the Office of the President on April 14.
Two commissioners from the government side, Johaira Wahab and Fatmawati Salapuddin, skipped the signing of the draft law, according to reports.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Malacañang hoped to submit the draft law to Congress in June, or earlier.
In his speech during the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on March 28, President Aquino said he would go all-out in forging a “principled consensus.’’
He earlier said he expected Congress deliberations to be “characterized by a sincere desire to improve on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and not by self-interest that only aims to perpetuate an untenable status quo.’’
If the law is ratified in the areas covered by the Bangsamoro region, the Bangsamoro people could take part in the 2016 national elections.
The signing came after 17 years of on-and-off negotiations between the government and the secessionist group that splintered from the Moro National Liberation Front after the 1996 peace agreement forged by the Ramos administration and the MNLF.
In 2008, the Arroyo administration hacked out a deal expanding the Bangsamoro territory in secrecy, and this was greeted with protests when it came to light.
The Supreme Court ruled the deal (memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain) unconstitutional, and MILF rebels attacked villages in central Mindanao in protest of deal’s aborted signing in Malaysia.
After a crucial, much criticized one-on-one meeting between Mr. Aquino and Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim in Japan in August 2011, the Aquino administration kick-started the exploratory talks with the MILF by signing the framework agreement on Bangsamoro in October 2012.
In the next 15 months, negotiators on both sides cobbled together the annexes on transitional arrangements and modalities; revenue-generation and wealth sharing; power sharing, and normalization.
Together with the 2012 framework agreement, the annexes form the comprehensive agreement.