Press conference: after the Senate Committee on Local Government Hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Sen. Bongbong: We had just concluded a hearing in which we had as resource persons the peace council the group that was organized by the President, to bring their views on the different aspects of the BBL, the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The four subjects as delineated by the peace council were on constitutionality, were on patrimony and the economy, were on peace and human security, and finally, social justice.

This is similar actually, merong mga parallels dun sa paghati-hati namin dun sa mga subjects sa amin. But merong mga ibang tanong na nag-ooverlap sa ibat-ibang subjects. But anyway, I think very useful ang naging diskusyon.

The first comment that I would like to make is to see that kami nga ay nagpapasalamat sa peace council dahil kitang-kita natin na ang peace council ay kinikilala na may kakulangan ang BBL at merong mga bagay na kailangang palitan o ipaliwanag ng mabuti. And that has been the view of both Houses of Congress.

Lagi naming inaaalala noon ang salita ng Palasyo, ang salita ng MILF, na walang dapat palitan. At kung matingnan natin ngayong araw na ito ay iyon na naman ang naging pronouncement ng ating Pangulo na dapat ipasa ng walang pagbabago ang BBL.
Pero naman ang ating mga peace council na mga kilala sa kanilang mga ibat-ibang sector—they are recognized in their fields as men and women of stature—the opinion that they have is more in consonance with both Houses of Congress na pag-aralan natin ng mabuti. At sa aming pag-aaral ay marami tayong nakikita na mas maaari pang pagandahin. Yung ibang bagay, especially on the issue of economy and patrimony, maraming suggestion. Ang ilang suggestion ay kailangang ipaliwanag na mabuti ang mga bagay-bagay na yan sa BBL.

In terms of constitutionality maraming suggestion si Chief Justice Davide na dapat amyendahan sa BBL para mawala na ang kwestion tungkol sa constitutionality.

Doon naman sa question on human security, marami ring kailangang pag-usapan pa.

Kaya’t kahit papano kung ganito ang naging opinyon ng ating peace council ay masasabi natin na it will advance the process. It will advance the discussion. Because now we understand that the deficiencies, as we have seen them, the problem, as we have seen them, are also recognized not only by the members of the two houses of Congress and some other commentators, but also by the peace council.

So we are very grateful to them for bringing, for sharing their wisdom, their experience and their insights to the committee. So that’s my statement. Any questions?

Q: Sir, so how keen are you to adopting the suggested changes that they made?

Sen. Bongbong: Well, depending on which suggestion you are talking about. On the constitutional side, we have to study it clearly. Kahit papano Chief Justice ang kausap natin kaya kailangan seryosohin natin ang kanyang mga suggestion, ang kanyang mga proposal, on the question of constitutionality.

But lahat naman ng ating gagawin dito is still with an eye to the findings that we have come to ourselves, in the three committees in the Senate. And so the questions on constitutionality will still have to be seen in context of the final committee report of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago in her hearings of the committee on constitutional amendments.

So of course, the fact na meron suggestion si Chief Davide tungkol sa constitutional problems ay palagay ko is very encouraging for us dahil yun ang aming matagal nang sinasabi. And to have a former Chief Justice agree with us encourages us that we should continue in that discussion, in that examination, in that work that we are doing now.

Q: Sir, yung nabanggit kaninang in two weeks daw matatapos na yung committee deliberations, kaya ba yun realistically? In two weeks daw matatapos na yung committee deliberations, yung binanggit po kanina ni Senator Drilon, is that realistic?

Sen. Bongbong: Ah kasi meron kaming tentative schedule ng hearings na matatapos nga, matatatapos na kami by….I think the last one is scheduled for May 25. So I’m not sure how long it will take.

Again, ayokong mag-commit sa timetable dahil baka hindi naman masundan.

Nung habang naghe-hearing naman kami, yung mga puntos na napapag-usapan sa mga hearing ay pinag-aaralan na namin kung papanong mapapasok sa BBL. So that is an on-going process. Hindi naman basta’t kailangan munang matigil yung hearing bago magsimula.

But again, every hearing that we have conducted so far, may bagong kailangang tingnan, may bagong kailangang pag-isipan at may bagong kailangang idagdag o palitan o tanggalin sa draft BBL. Of course, we will not finalize the version that will be reported out until we have heard from everyone in our hearing. Okay?

Q: What other hearings do you have in the coming weeks? What other hearings have been scheduled?

Sen. Bongbong: Okay, the next hearings that will be scheduled are the Zamboanga and Jolo hearings. The tentative schedule is 12 and 13, dalawang araw yun e, pero isang byahe lang. So 12 and 13 naka tentative schedule ngayon yun.
There is going to be another hearing on IP and the sultanates, which we are scheduling for….right now naka-schedule for…yun ang 25th. There may be another hearing pero hindi na siguro lalampas ng 25, maybe we can hold it before the 25th. Meron pang ibang grupo na gustong magsalita, specifically mga retired police and military officers and some other observers that have asked to be included.

So pagkatapos nun, that will be the extent na of our hearing—tapos na. And we will then go to the beginning of writing the committee report and writing the version that we will be presenting to the Senate.

So again, I know you are trying to tie down the timetable and I would like to do it as well, pero mahirap kasing gawin dahil kagaya ng sabi ko, bawat hearing meron kaming bagong natututunan na kailangang i-incorporate doon sa version ng Senado.

Q: So you’re saying sir at least for the Senate it’s really impossible sir to pass the BBL here in the Senate…

Sen. Bongbong: No.

Q: As it is, sorry.

Sen. Bongbong: As it is, yes. I think I can categorically state that the draft BBL as transmitted by the President to the Senate and to the House of Representative in its form would not pass either House.

Alright, that’s it? Maraming salamat.

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