Belmonte: Peace council may come up with ‘BBL’ different from Congress’
SPEAKER Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday acknowledged the “risk” that a peace council formed by President Benigno Aquino III to review the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) might arrive at a totally different version from that of Congress.
“That’s the risk. Nobody can dictate on them,” he said when asked about the possibility that the council leaders might clash with the Senate and the House of Representatives in terms of their respective vision for the Bangsamoro people.
But he said the council, whose leaders would include Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., should have a favorable impact on Congress in its own deliberations on the draft law.
“The Peace Summit, which includes Cardinal Tagle, enjoys a high degree of public confidence, which has been battered by incessant, often misleading, criticism,” Belmonte said in a text message.
“That these people are willing to help will also have a favorable impact on Congress in its deliberations,” he added.
On Friday, President Aquino named Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee and youth leader Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman as leaders of a National Peace Summit that would “deliberate on and discuss the BBL.”
The ad hoc committee on the BBL at the House of Representatives will continue executive sessions from April 20 to 30, and vote on the measure by the middle of May.
The timetable for the BBL was pushed back by the resumption of the probe into the Jan. 25 Mamasapano carnage by two other House committees on April 7 and 8.
Lawmakers said they wanted the Mamasapano investigation to happen ahead of the BBL deliberations, to derive useful insights for the provisions on public order and security, and on the Bangsamoro police.
The Mamasapano debacle claimed more than 60 lives, 44 of them elite police commandos, after government forces clashed with fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The bloodshed sparked wide outrage and threatened to derail the passage of the BBL, which would flesh out a peace agreement signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, earlier said the peace council should submit its recommendations by April 20 so that the members of his committee could read them before the vote on the proposed BBL on May 11 and 12.
Rodriguez said the council could submit recommendations during the chamber’s deliberations and plenary voting on the draft BBL.
Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon have committed to pass the proposed BBL by June, before the adjournment of the second regular session of the 16th Congress. SFM/AC
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