By: Ernie Reyes | InterAksyon
MANILA – Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara on Friday expressed support for the filing of a substitute bill for the Palace-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), since some provisions are at odds with the spirit of the 1987 Constitution.
In a statement, Angara said that even Malacañang has come to terms with the reality that Congress cannot reasonably be expected to be a rubber stamp.
"We value the expertise and the work done so far on the BBL, but both houses of Congress have the proper mandate to tackle the bill. Having said that, we hope to come up with an improved version," Angara said.
Recently, Marcos delivered a privilege speech stating his strong position that he could not support the Malacañang-drafted BBL as its flaws would only lead to more bloodshed, instead of achieving its goal of bringing about lasting peace, in Mindanao.
"Unfortunately, the BBL in its present form and substance, will not bring us any closer to peace. Instead, it will lead us to perdition. Armed conflict will ensue. Blood will be shed. And when blood is shed, it will not distinguish between right and wrong; between young and old, neither between men and women, nor soldiers or rebels, combatants and civilians, rich, poor, Muslims, Christians. Nobody wins. Everybody loses," he said.
He added: "I repeat: I am for peace. I share our people's thirst for peace. But there are just so many infirmities in BBL that if we tweak these item-by-item, the original bill might no longer be recognizable," he said, in Filipino.
Senate President Franklin Drilon had downplayed Marcos's rejection, and said that his misgivings could be debated on during the plenary deliberations.
"It is the prerogative of the committee certainly. Nobody has said that we will not revise the BBL as submitted by the Palace," Drilon said.
"We have always said that we will review and make sure that the BBL is within the four corners of the Constitution. This is something that all senators agree on.
"So, we will debate on the substitute bill when it is submitted to the chamber and we have many common grounds, One, it should pass the constitutional test.
"Two, it should result in peace in Mindanao.
"Three, that national interest should be served.
"I don't think the statement of Senator Marcos should cause mass concern. This is the position of the senators from the very start, we will examine closely the BBL.
"Now, once the committee report has been submitted, we will debate on it.
"The Senate is a collegial body. No one can dictate. The senators are all independent. They have their own independent assessment of the situation and we will debate on this."
Marcos noted that, based on the committee report of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendment and Revision of Codes, the draft BBL is riddled with constitutional infirmities.
Citing the report, Marcos said the BBL aspires to create a part-sovereign state that enjoys sovereignty within the Bangsamoro territory and within the territory of the State, or to create a state within a state.
Marcos said several provisions of BBL run counter to the Constitution: