By Ernie Reyes | InterAksyon
Majority of the members of two Senate panels - on local government, and on peace, unification and reconciliation - have signed the draft committee report on the renamed Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), allowing the chief sponsor to file the committee report according to plan, and paving the way for deliberations.
Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, Monday filed a committee report containing the substitute bill for the Malacañang-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Senate Bill 2894, under Committee Report 200, titled "Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region," is 100 pages, with 17 articles and 215 sections.
Marcos' bill is a substitute to Senate Bill 2408, which Malacañang submitted to the Senate and referred to his local government committee on September 15, 2014.
"In fulfillment of my promise and in compliance with our agreement during the (senators') caucus last week, I filed today the substitute bill which I firmly believe will establish a strong mechanism for peace in Mindanao," Marcos said in a statement.
Marcos is set to sponsor his bill on the Senate floor on Wednesday. He vowed to answer questions from colleagues in the subsequent interpellation period.
Marcos described the bill as an all-inclusive measure since it carried the applicable advocacies, positions, and proposals of all the stakeholders.
In all, 12 public hearings and one briefing were held, starting 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.
One hearing each was conducted in Cotabato City, Marawi City, Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, and Zamboanga City.
Aside from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government panel that negotiated peace with the MILF, Marcos also invited as resource persons representatives from different stakeholders like the Moro National Liberation Front, Sultanate of Sulu, indigenous people, religious groups, youth groups, legal luminaries, labor and peasant groups, local government units, and other concerned organizations.
"The number of hearings and resource persons speak for themselves. Contrary to the accusation that I was delaying the BBL, I, in fact, focused on it and we even worked during the recess (of the Senate). I'm confident that I will be vindicated by my proposed measure," he said.
Marcos said the number of the hearings and the wide public participation in the process would prove the meticulous scrutiny of the BBL.
"My legislative staff and I really worked on it and we did everything we could in order to ensure that the substitute bill can and will stand constitutional challenges. Also, we put things we deemed necessary so that it will be accepted by the people and will lay the groundwork for peace in Mindanao," he said.
There are 13 members of the committee on local government: Marcos as chairman, Antonio Trillanes IV, vice chairman; Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Gregorio Honasan, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel III, Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar.
The members of the Peace, Unification and Reconciliation panel chaired by Senator Teofisto Guingona III are Pimentel as vice chairman; Cayetano (Pia), Aquino, Trillanes, Honasan, and acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and detained Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile are ex-officio members in both committees.
“Those members signed the draft report not as yes to its content, but to officially enrol it as an official committee report. It is not official until it is finally submitted for plenary debates,” Marcos explained.
Marcos said some senators had signed with reservations, amendments and stated a desire for deliberations on particular issue or issues and to make some changes on some items and provisions.
“They signed but it does not mean, it is yes to the report. It is our agreed procedures to submit the committee report for plenary debates,” Marcos said, adding that any report cannot be submitted for plenary unless majority of its members signed it.
Marcos said the deliberations on the proposed measure are scheduled on Wednesday, August 12.
“There are those who were reluctant to sign because they wished to introduce amendments, but I and Senate President (Franklin Drilon) asked them to sign it now, with a promise to tackle their points on the floor; and if the amendments are really good, then let's adopt them and then the process continues,” Marcos said, speaking partly in Filipino.
However, Marcos refused to divulge the details on major amendments made in the proposed measure, saying it will take two hours for him to explain.
“There are some parts where almost everything was revised; in some parts we moved the commas. About 80 percent was changed. But I think the original intent is very much preserved. It is filed now. The committee report is filed as of today and I will sponsor it on Wednesday, and in the following week we start discussions' interpellation is the next phase,” Marcos said.