THE Aquino administration of President Benigno Aquino III is intent on having Congress approve the controversial Palace version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law despite legislative hurdles and even a suggestion to leave the matter to the administration to be elected in May.
“The determination of the administration to have the BBL [approved] in Congress, in support of the peace process, does not waver,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in reaction to the suggestion of Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano to leave the matter to the next administration.
Alejano said it would be better to leave the BBL until after the election so that it is not used by candidates as an election issue.
Alejano said the House can barely muster a quorum and they do not have enough time to tackle every provision in the BBL.
“In my personal perspective, let the next administration tackle this. If we will push this now and a lot of issues remain unsolved, violence in Mindanao might worsen,” said Alejano, saying the true relationship between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is one key issue.
Senatorial candidate and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez also warned that forcing the passage of a legally flawed BBL during the current Congress may make the country an international laughing stock.
Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, said most peace advocates want a BBL that will lead to true and lasting peace that is legally binding and not unconstitutional.
“We all want peace. We all want the peace process to push through. But instead of attaining long-lasting peace in Mindanao we might end up in chaos because of so many confusing and conflicting provisions—provisions that do not conform with the Constitution and other laws of the Republic,” Romualdez said during his interview on on dwIZ’s “Karambola.”
“We will be a laughing stock of the world if we pass a peace measure that is legally flawed and violates our Constitution.” Romualdez said, adding there is still time for Congress to work on “legal” BBL as it will only take political will to pass one.
“If we have political will, we can work on a measure that is free from any legal infirmity,” Romualdez, a senatorial candidate, said.
Romualdez said the revised BBL prepared by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate local government committee, should be the model for a “truthful” BBL.
Marcos’ draft bill took out several provisions that provide greater powers and resources for the new political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Romualdez said he is hopeful that the House of Representatives will be able to come up with its own version that advances not only the interests of a few but of the many, including marginalized tribal folk in Mindanao.
Last year, Romualdez and the Philconsa filed a 26-page petition before the Supreme Court seeking to declare the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro unconstitutional, but the high court dismissed the suite as premature.
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