Bernadette E. Tamayo | Journal Online
SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is set to conduct a two-day marathon hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City to allow the residents of these provinces to air their views on the proposed measure creating a Bangsamoro government in Southern Philippines.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government tasked to tackle the BBL, will hold today a public hearing on the BBL in Jolo while he conducts a similar hearing tomorrow in Zamboanga City.
“I made a promise to the people of Jolo and Zamboanga that they will have a chance to air their views on the BBL and so we set these hearings to fulfill that promise,” said Marcos.
The Jolo and Zamboanga hearings will be held in the same week the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives gears up to vote on the final version of the BBL that it would present to the plenary. Malacañang wants Congress to pass the BBL before Congress adjourns on June 10.
The BBL hearings suffered a setback in the Senate and HoR following the Mamasapano clash last January 25 between the Special Action Force (SAF) and Muslim rebels, including Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters that led to the death of 44 police commandos.
“When we get back to Manila, we will have another hearing to get the side of the Moro National Liberation Front. I think it is proper to hear the MNLF side because they have signed a peace agreement with the government, the 1996 Jakarta Agreement,” said Marcos.
“So after that, before the end of the month, we would likely complete our hearing and the committee would probably be ready by then to write the version that we will present to the rest of the senators,” he added.
Marcos also said that the Senate is not likely to heed Malacañang’s appeal for the passage of the BBL without any amendments. He said that even the Citizens Peace Council (CPC) which President Benigno Aquino III had formed to review the BBL raised the need to make some changes to the draft BBL.
“We will amend on the power sharing, we will amend on the administrative issues, we will amend on the economic issues, we will certainly amend on the constitutional issues,” he said.
Marcos said that he cannot commit to any deadline for the passage of the BBL in the Senate. He said many of his fellow senators have signified their intention to propose their own amendments to the draft BBL, which would likely result in lengthy floor debates.
“If we manage to pass it by June 10, then well and good. But what is more important is that we pass a version of the BBL that we believe will really work to achieve its avowed goal, and that is to bring peace and prosperity to Muslim Mindanao,” he said.