Sen. Bongbong backs speaker Belmonte’s stand vs. MILF demand to restore deleted BBL provisions

The Senate and the House of Representatives are united in saying no to the demands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Malacañang for Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law without any changes.

This developed as Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday backed the position of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who balked against the MILF’s demand to restore the 28 provisions that the House ad hoc committee deleted in their version of the BBL.

Speaking before college students in a forum on BBL at the San Sebastian College in Manila, Sen. Bongbong explained that while the draft BBL seeks to implement the MILF’s peace pact with the Philippine government, it only binds the Executive Department.

“The agreements do not bind the Congress. Neither do they bind the Supreme Court, much less the entire country,” said Sen. Bongbong, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government tasked to deliberate on the BBL.

The Senator said this is the reason why the MILF cannot demand the passage of the draft BBL in its original form. To address the flaws of the draft bill, Sen. Bongbong filed Senate Bill 2948 or the “Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” which is expected to undergo floor debates next week.

The MILF has been insisting that since they have signed a peace pact with the President, this should be honored by the entire Philippine government by passing the proposed implementing law, or the BBL, with all its provisions intact.

“If it’s a sovereign nation that is signing a treaty with the Philippines, then because foreign policy is within the powers of the Executive, that is right—once the President signs it, the entire Philippine government is committed to honor that,” Sen. Bongbong said.

However, he said the MILF’s peace pact with the government does not fall into the same category. He said the BBL is not a treaty but a law creating an autonomous local government of the Philippine government.

Sen. Bongbong reiterated his belief that if Congress passes the draft BBL without changes, the Supreme Court will eventually shoot it down as unconstitutional and put to waste all the work the Legislature exerted to pass the bill.

“If the proponents are really bent on passing the BBL in the exact shape and form as drafted by the Palace and the MILF, then there would be no other legal recourse but to initiate a coordinate move of amending or revising the Constitution,” Sen. Bongbong said.

This, according to the Senator, will accommodate the “drastic changes” in the Philippines’ existing government structures and institutions called for under the draft BBL.

Sen. Bongbong said he has worked hard and risked much to craft his substitute bill meant to pave the way for lasting peace in Mindanao while ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

Meanwhile, he lauded the initiative of the Political Science Society of San Sebastian College in holding the forum that provided an opportunity for the youth to learn about the proposed law, which is of “sheer importance to our life as a nation, and to our lives as a Filipino people.”

“As the future of our great land, you shall be inheriting the country and the society that we—your progenitors and forbears—are now shaping and molding in your behalf,” Sen. Bongbong said.

An estimated 500 college students from San Sebastian and other schools such as Arellano University, Far Eastern University, Manuel L. Quezon University, University of the East, Letran Colleges, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Adamson University, and College of St. Benilde, attended the forum.

 

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