Bangsamoro bill undergoing polishing
MANILA, Philippines—After President Benigno Aquino III reviews the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the crucial document that will create a new Bangsamoro autonomous region will undergo last minute polishing by the Office of the President and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) before it is submitted to Congress, said Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
“We expect the President will have an input, although we believe that it is a general review,” Iqbal told the Inquirer by phone.
Iqbal said the BBL draft with the President is not yet in its final form as it would have to go through some “procedural matters” such as the BTC members signing it before it is forwarded to Congress.
Nonetheless, he said that “in essence, practically everything is settled.”
The draft BBL was submitted to the President for review on Wednesday night.
For her part, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told the Inquirer: “Let’s give the President the time and space to review the draft and take the next steps that would facilitate the submission to Congress.”
A copy of the draft BBL consisting of 18 chapters was also sent to MILF chair Murad Ebrahim for review.
“In principle, that is how [it’s done]. The highest authorities have to look at it first. But since this is a legal issue and the BBL was crafted by the BTC, what is specific in the workflow is that President Aquino will review the BBL. But even without saying, the MILF chairman will also look at it,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal added that a meeting between President Aquino and Murad “remains an option, although nothing is definite yet.”
Meanwhile, Malacañang said it hopes to submit the proposed Bangsamoro law to Congress before the end of August.
The two peace panels had to come up with an agreed version of the bill after the MILF complained that a Malacañang review team had practically diluted the original version crafted by the BTC, which Iqbal also chairs.
In an interview with the Inquirer on Monday, Ferrer said that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Presidential Legal Council Alfred Caguioa met with Iqbal in Davao City as “another way of moving the discussion [on the BBL] forward.”
The government and the MILF gave themselves until this week to complete the draft BBL where comments of both parties were incorporated.
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