By Amita O. Legaspi | GMA News Online
A total of 17 senators have signed Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s alternative to Malacañang's draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, pushing the proposed measure from the committee level to the Senate plenary for further deliberation.
However, fifteen of the senators who signed the 100-page Committee Report indicated their reservations as regards the bill, which aims to provide the charter for a new Bangsamoro autonomous region—the embodiment of the government's peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
They expressed their intention to interpellate Marcos and introduce amendments on the Senate floor.
"[This is] to allow this bill to go to plenary. This is not a yes to the bill," Senator Cynthia Villar told reporters as regards her signature.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano signed but openly expressed his disapproval in a marginal note.
— Nimfa R. Ravelo (@nimfaravelo) August 10, 2015
“I vote No. Yes to strengthening the Autonomous region that will result in a just, inclusive, lasting bill. No to BBL in present form. This version has addressed many or majority of objections, provisions, issues. But many more have to be addressed amended,” Cayetano said in his note.
Aside from Marcos, Villar and Cayetano, others who signed were Senators Teofisto Guingona III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, Bam Aquino, Loren Legarda, Lito Lapid, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Gregorio Honasan II, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ralph Recto, and Vicente Sotto III.
The committee report has 17 articles and 215 sections.
“In fulfillment of my promise and in compliance with our agreement during the (Senate) caucus last week, I filed today the substitute bill which I firmly believe will establish a strong mechanism for peace in Mindanao,” Marcos said during Monday's session.
Marcos is scheduled to sponsor his bill on the Senate floor on Wednesday as he vowed to answer questions to be raised by his colleagues in the subsequent interpellation period.
In an interview with reporters, Marcos described the bill as inclusive.
“I think one of the main features that you will find is it is inclusive. It has included all of the sectors, all of the stakeholders that should be included in the peace agreement,” Marcos said.
He added that they changed the title to “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”
“Iyon naman ang tamang title, it is more descriptive. We had to redefine how do we use the word Bangsamoro, we defined the word Bangsamoro as the people as identified or as described in the law,” Marcos said.
Marcos completed 12 public hearings and one briefing, which started on September 23, 2014, plus two separate hearings conducted by the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
The last hearing was on June 9.