It’s back to BBL after Senate tackles budget, says Drilon
THE SENATE has not forgotten about the draft Basic Bangsamoro law (BBL), according to Senate President Franklin Drilon.
In a statement yesterday, Drilon said the Senate will focus on the measure as soon as it finishes deliberations on the 2016 national budget.
“We have enough time and political will to ensure that this bill, so crucial to forging peace in Muslim Mindanao, will be passed and see the light of day,” Drilon said amid concerns the bill would stall due to some controversial provisions.
According to Drilon, the Senate will tackle the 2016 budget when sessions resume on Monday after a week-long break for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit.
After the Senate completes deliberations on the budget, it will turn its attention to the Bangsamoro measure, he said. The Bangsamoro bill still remains a priority, he added.
The Senate President appealed to his colleagues, especially those running in next year’s elections, to attend plenary sessions and actively participate in deliberations.
The draft BBL, which would redraw the Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao and give it more powers and resources than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will seal the deal between the government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The powerful Middle East-based Organization of the Islamic Conference has urged the government to pass the bill in its original or undiluted form.
A number of legislators, however, have raised questions about the constitutionality of the bill, particularly with regard to the redrawing of territory and the level of autonomy it may be granted without the so-called Bangsamoro becoming tantamount to a “substate” within a state. The constitutional separation of church and state could also become an issue.
Legislative deliberations also hit a snag early this year following the clash between police Special Action Force commandos and MILF members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that resulted in the death of 44 commandos and 18 rebels. The incident led to several lawmakers casting doubt on the sincerity of the MILF as peace partners of the government.
Extremist Islamist operatives, some identified with global and regional jihadist terror groups, have also been suspected of hiding in rebel-held territories although the MILF has denied this.
In August, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local governments, submitted a revised version of the bill or the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region which amended 80 percent of the draft bill.
It removed controversial provisions which would allow the Bangsamoro to have a separate Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit, Ombudsman and Commission on Human Rights. It put on hold the allocation of P17 billion in development funds for the autonomous region and provisions regarding “zones of joint cooperation” in the Sulu Sea and Moro Gulf.
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