The Daily Manila Shimbun


New draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to be submitted to Duterte by mid-June

June 8, 2017

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission is set to submit to President Rodrigo Duterte a new draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by next week, a peace official said on Thursday. In a press briefing in Davao City, Irene Santiago, chairman of the Philippine government implementing panel for Bangsamoro accords, said the 21-man BTC approved the final draft of the BBL on June 6. "We hope that the final draft can be submitted to the President before the middle of June," she said. She said the new draft has inputs from the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front under former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema and former Sulu Governor Yusoph Jikiri. As to the faction of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari, she said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is dealing with them separately. But Santiago stressed, "the government is very firm that there is no re-negotiation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement," which was signed by the administration of then President Fidel Ramos and the MNLF to end their more than two decades armed conflict. She said the government would only try to address three items left from the nine years of discussion at the Tripartite Review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. One of them is the issue on strategic minerals, which is being addressed by the draft BBL, particularly on wealth-sharing. While Santiago could not reveal the difference of the new draft with the one submitted to Congress during the previous administration, she said, "I think this is an even better version of the BBL." During the Aquino administration, the then 15-man BTC, also led by the MILF, came out with a draft BBL, which was reviewed by the Office of the President before it was submitted to Congress for approval. However, the Senate and the House of Representatives failed to pass the bill on BBL due to some provisions which were allegedly unconstitutional. Shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June last year, he expanded the membership of the BTC to include the MNLF and other indigenous groups in Mindanao to craft a new draft BBL. But Misuari's faction refused to join, thus, the administration decided to deal with his group separately. According to Santiago, after the draft BBL is submitted to Duterte's office by June 13 or 14 and after the Office of the President looks into it, "we hope that when Congress resumes on July 24, that this is submitted to Congress, either on the 24th or the 25th." She also hoped Duterte would include the BBL in the list of priority bills that he would mention during his second State of the Nation Address on July 24. She also expressed confidence that the President would certify as urgent the passage of the BBL. The passage of the BBL is contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the Aquino administration and the MILF signed in 2014. The more than four decades of MILF rebellion in Mindanao would end after the full implementation of CAB. The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF. Celerina Monte/DMS