Senators on Wednesday pushed for the swift passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law following a hearing to discuss the provisions of the measure.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, chairman of the chamber’s subcommittee on the BBL, and Senator Loren Legarda presented the current provisions of the measure and ways on how it could be passed faster.
Senator Sonny Angara also said the BBL is an “affirmative action” toward attaining regional stability and economic development in Mindanao.
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan, members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and members of the security sector attended the hearing, with another one scheduled on Jan. 15 next year.
Zubiri urged his colleagues to have the provisions of the proposed law “be presented in an executive session with the Cabinet members concerned so that they are aware. Because us lawmakers, we’ll do our part.”
“Most of our colleagues here truly understand the plight of our Moro brothers and sisters… Rest assured that we have full support when it comes to social justice for our brothers and sisters in Moro land,” he added.
Legarda stressed the importance of finalizing the autonomous region’s budget for the smooth implementation of the new Bangsamoro political entity. She also called for a financed-focused hearing so that the budgetary computations could be foreseen.
“I recognize first, the importance of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Second, [the law is] definitely so urgent and important that we have to fund it,” Legarda said.
The senator emphasized she’s willing to work with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, led by Dureza, for the BBL’s immediate passage.
“It’s about time that we give true, authentic, genuine autonomy to our brothers and sisters in the South. And we should not differentiate creed, color, culture, and that there should be a socially, and economically inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Legarda said.
“I’m willing to work with our chairs, and peace process friends Secretary Jess Dureza and Undersecretary Nabil Tan who have been working for peace for decades now,” she said.
Angara, chairman of the Senate local government committee, said President Rodrigo Duterte has seen the urgency and the need for BBL, and the senators agree.
“But we must remember that we must build an autonomous region based on justice. We will approach the BBL with sensitivity and awareness of historical injustices,” he said.
“It must be within bounds of the Constitution, and a product of national debate and consultations. We urge our colleagues to hear all concerns and balance the interests of various groups in the region to ensure a more inclusive BBL,” Angara added.
The Senate BBL sub-committee earlier conducted a hearing on Senate Bills 1608 and 1635.
The President has asked lawmakers to make the proposed BBL conform with the Constitution and to hasten its approval to avoid more trouble from secessionist groups in Mindanao.
The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014. It aims to create a Bangsamoro political entity with enhanced autonomy.
The proposed measure failed to pass in the previous administration because of the bloody Mamasapano clash, where 44 elite cops were killed.
“If not for the Mamasapano [incident] where our brave soldiers and policemen lost their lives, this could have already beena law,” said Angara.
“Let us not forget their sacrifices. Let’s proceed with fervor and passion to give justice to the sacrifices of all the men, not just those who died on that day, but also our forebears,” Angara said.