Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said Malacanang should listen to major stakeholders and legal experts who have pointed out the flaws in the draft Bangsamoro Basic law.
Sen. Bongbong, Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, made the remark after Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda insisted that the draft BBL version is the “best course of action” to attain lasting peace in Mindanao and that it would withstand legal scrutiny.
“That is not what our resource persons told us in our committee hearings. The Palace should listen to them too instead of listening only to the concerns of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),”Sen. Bongbong said.
In a radio interview, the Senator said the forging of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), to be implemented via BBL, was done exclusively between the Philippine government panel and the MILF.
On the other hand, Sen. Bongbong said their hearings bared major stakeholders like the Sultanates, the Moro National Liberation Front, indigenous people (IP), and concerned local officials were left out in the process.
“Ay itinatanong ng iba: kami ang stakeholders dito bakit hindi kami nakunsulta? Magkakagulo lamang pagka-ganyan. Kaya’t iyan ang sinabi ko, dahil gulo lang ang aabutin natin pag itinuloy natin yung BBL dun sa dating version dahil hindi nakunsulta ang karamihan ng mga stakeholders. At pagka yang gulo na yan ay naging mas matindi ay mauuwi yan sa giyera uli,” Sen. Bongbong said.
In a privilege speech on Wednesday, the Senator said he is preparing a substitute bill addressing the concerns of major stakeholders as well as the constitutional issues raised against the draft version of the proposed law, which he said “would lead us to perdition”.
Former undersecretary Senen Bacani, a member of the government peace panel that negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front told the Local Government Committee on its hearing last June 3 said they would not dispute the senator’s comment about the lack of consultation and communication.
“We acknowledge that it is never enough,” Bacani said, although he claimed they held over 500 consultations regarding BBL with the various stakeholders over a 5-year period.
Bacani also virtually admitted that some provisions in the draft BBL may suffer from constitutional infirmity.
“Were willing to work with all of you to make sure that there is no unconstitutional provision in the final law that will be passed by both Houses of Congress,” Bacani told Marcos.
Even the Palace-constituted Citizen’s Peace Committee headed by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. recommended some amendments to the draft BBL to ensure conformity with the constitution, Marcos noted.
Likewise, Marcos pointed out that 12 senators have signed the committee report of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, in support of her finding that the draft BBL suffers from various constitutional infirmities.
He said his committee would adopt Santiago’s committee report and incorporate her recommendations in the substitute bill
Sen. Bongbong vowed he would not allow any railroading of the BBL in his panel. After Marcos delivered his privilege speech other senators supported his stand and closed ranks with him to assert the independence of the Senate.