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New BBL draft ‘constitutional’ – BTC

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) assured the Senate on Tuesday that the new draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is constitutional and does not need further refinements.

BTC Commissioner Jose Lorena told a Senate committee that the BBL was consistent with the 1987 Constitution after former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. cited some provisions of the bill that needs some refinements.

Lorena addressed the issue of the constitutionality of the bill by referring to their mandate during their reinstitution by President Rodrigo Duterte in November 2016.

“The current expanded BTC was directed to craft the BBL along these parameters: implementation of all agreements in steps with Constitution. We are minded by the Constitutional provisions, and we are in custody of the resolution of the constitutionalists so that the draft BBL can pass the constitutional tests,” Lorena said.

Lorena said a legal panel was created to ensure that the provisions are in step with the constitution. He said that he would submit the transcription of the deliberations of the commission.

Photo by the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan called the new BBL “a more improved version of the 2014 bill.”

During the second Senate hearing on the BBL, Pimentel pointed out several parts of the bill that might deviate from the current constitution:

  • The proposal for the Bangsamoro government to be parliamentary wherein system of government should be Presidential;
  • The assertion of powers that only the national government exercises, and the full implementation of the Shariah Law.

Despite his questions on the BBL draft,  Pimentel said the  BBL was important in bringing long-lasting peace in Mindanao.

“The intent of the BBL is to bring peace, progress and development in Mindanao deserve the support of our people – there’s no question about that,” he said.

On the other hand, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon called the law an antidote against the rise of violent extremism.

“The successful conclusion of the peace process is still the most successful vaccination against the rise of violent extremism in the country.

“One of the most pronounced threats is the Muslim communities turning away from the peace process. Therefore, President Duterte’s warning about the war in Mindanao is not far-off.”

Sen. Miguel Zubiri, the chairman of the sub-committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law, reaffirmed Senate’s commitment to the passage of the law.

“We need a long-lasting political solution to achieve peace in Mindanao. If we just continue with the status quo, I’m afraid that we will continuously harbor extremism in these areas of Mindanao.”

The proposed BBL seeks to address the historical injustices committed against the Moro people through genuine autonomy that will replace the current Autonomous Region on the Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

During the first Senate public hearing on BBL last 20 December, Senators Zubiri and Loren Legarda have thrown their full support on the passage of the bill.

“It’s about time that we give true, authentic, genuine autonomy to our brothers and sisters in the South,” Senator Legarda said. She also called for a hearing dedicated to finding ways to finance the Bangsamoro political entity.

For his part, Zubiri said he has withdrawn his version of BBL and replaced it with the BTC version of the bill that was submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 17, 2017. #