By Bernadette E. Tamayo | Journal Online
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has given the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) a “key role” in the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) in answer to a complaint from the MNLF that they had been left out of the creation of the Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.
Marcos filed SB 2894, titled “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” under Committee Report 200, which he described as “all-inclusive” because it contained applicable advocacies, positions, and proposals from all the stakeholders that he had called during the period of public hearings.
The other stakeholders called by Marcos to the public hearings were the Sultanate of Sulu, Indigenous People (IP), religious groups, youth groups, legal luminaries, labor and peasant groups, local government units, and other concerned organizations.
He said that if enacted into law, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will be established, replacing the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which will be abolished. An inventory will be conducted to ensure that the liabilities of the ARMM under law, contracts or others will be settled prior to the turnover to the BTA.
Marcos, however, said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), being the “principal” party to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, “shall enjoy preference in the appointment to the BTA, both in its leadership and membership.”
Under Senate Bill No. 2894, the MNLF will be part of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which shall be the interim government or governing body in the BAR during the transition period.
The BAR law is a “substitute bill” to the Malacañang- proposed SBN 2408 commonly known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Section 196 of Article 15 (Transition Period) of SBN 2894 provides that a representative of MNLF will be appointed by the President as a member of the BTA.
“The MNLF was not given any participation under the original BBL version, that’s why I included them in the BTA in my substitute bill. In fact, in the public hearings which I had conducted, I had invited them and all the other stakeholders because I consider them as partners in this endeavor of finally bringing peace to Mindanao,” said Marcos.
The BTA will be composed of 60 members, which include all the incumbent members of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Legislative Assembly, and those who will be appointed by the President from the women sectors, settler communities, non-Moro inhabitants, other essential stakeholders, and MNLF.
Marcos had conducted a total of 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 Sen. 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.