Majority of senators sign on in support of Bangsamoro law
MANILA, Philippines–More than half of the Senate’s 24 members have pledged to support the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), signing on as coauthors of the measure that would establish a new autonomous region in Mindanao as part of the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Monday.
Drilon said the 13 senators who signed on as coauthors included members of the minority bloc led by Acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
“This only shows that the desire for peace knows no political color,” Drilon said.
With the support of the majority of the lawmakers, the BBL is expected to breeze through the Senate.
Nevertheless, Drilon urged his colleagues to carefully scrutinize the bill before crafting its final version.
“We cannot afford to err on this most sought after piece of legislation. Our people won’t forgive us if we fail to pass it on time. It is therefore incumbent upon us to make sure the efforts exerted by both panels will not be in vain, by ensuring that the BBL we will debate upon will be in accordance with the Constitution and can withstand judicial scrutiny,” he said.
He said the “first important issue” to be tackled is ensuring the draft BBL would not require an amendment to the Constitution.
“It should be consistent with the Constitution, just like any law that we will pass,” he said.
Drilon also thinks the form of government will be a contentious issue, because the Bangsamoro juridical entity will have a ministerial form of government. But he believes this could be defended.
“It is our view that there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits that. What is provided in the Constitution is that the basic law that will provide for legislative and judiciary branches must be ratified. It does not say what form of government it should be,” he said.
He added that there was enough leeway in the Constitution to allow for a parliamentary form of government.
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