Senate review of Bangsamoro bill starts Monday, Jan. 26
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate opens consultations on Monday (Jan. 26) to determine whether the proposed Bangsamoro basic law violates the Constitution.
It has invited members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission and other legal experts to a hearing to share and debate on their views on whether the draft law follows the 1987 Charter.
The hearing will be conducted jointly by the committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the committee on local government of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
Congress hopes to approve the bill by March, leaving enough time for a plebiscite.
The proposed basic law would establish an autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, as provided for by the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Among those expected to attend Monday’s hearing are 1986 Constitutional Commission members Adolf Azcuna, Christian Monsod and Wilfrido Villacorta, and retired Supreme Court justices Florentino Feliciano and Vicente Mendoza.
Also invited are academicians Merlin Magallona of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and Dean Julkipli Wadi of the UP Institute of Islamic Studies.
The hearing is expected to center on the topics of legislation versus constitutional change, checks and balances in the national government versus none in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous government, sovereignty versus substate, and territorial integrity versus functional division.
Proponents of the Bangsamoro measure from the government and the MILF are also expected to be present.
Santiago has expressed reservations about the measure. She believes that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the basis of the draft law, is unconstitutional for violating the principle of constitutional supremacy, as it would give rise not just to an autonomous region, but also a substate that would have certain sovereign powers that properly belong to the central government alone.
Another hearing is scheduled for Feb. 2.
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