President Rodrigo Duterte signs the executive order reconstituting the BTC in Malacañang on Nov. 2016. Also in the photo are Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal,
Manila, Philippines, 14 Ramadan 14338//9 June 2017 (MINA) — The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has finalized the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law(BBL) and is expected to present it to President Rodrigo Duterte this month, Philstar reported, citing an official on Thursday.
Irene Santiago, chair of the government implementing panel for Bangsamoro accords, said the commission approved the final draft last Tuesday.
“We hope the final draft can be submitted to the president before the middle of June,” Santiago said.
“We are hoping and planning that the president will mention it in the SONA (state of the nation address) and say that, ‘This is a priority bill for me,’” she added.
The president pushed for passage of the Bangsamoro law in his first SONA in July 2016.
The BBL, which seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity with enhanced autonomy, will implement the final peace agreement signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation in 2014.
The BTC, which consisted of representatives from the government, the MILF, indigenous peoples, local governments and sectoral groups, was tasked to draft the bill.
The measure was bypassed by the 16th Congress because of lack of time and questions on its constitutionality. Its passage was also hampered by the backlash over the Mamasapano clash, which left 44 police commandos dead in 2015.
The clash, which has been blamed on poor planning and lack of coordination with the MILF, also left 18 MILF fighters and at least two civilians dead.
The draft BBL may be sent to the Office of the President on June 13 or 14. Officials are hopeful that the measure will be submitted to Congress on June 24 or 25.
Santiago said she has no doubt that Duterte would certify the BBL as an urgent bill.
She said the new BBL was based on the original document but contains practical provisions on the transition between the passage of the law and its ratification.
“I think this is an even better version of the BBL,” Santiago said.
“I found that everybody was very pleased with the draft that they made,” she added.
Santiago said members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Sema-Jikiri faction provided input for the draft. A separate group led by Peace Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan will deal with the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari, who faces charges in connection with the 2013 siege of Zamboanga City.
“The government is very firm that there is no re-negotiation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement,” Santiago said, referring to the peace accord signed by the government and the MNLF. (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)