With more problem areas cropping up at each hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said it’s time Malacanang stop talking about deadlines for its passage.
Marcos, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government tacking the BBL, said he hasn’t heard any sufficient justification on the constant refrain coming from the Palace urging Congress to pass BBL before the legislature adjourns on June 11.
“The more we study it the more complicated it turns out. And that is the nature of what we are trying to do. And we do not shirk from the responsibility of taking us through the details, the historical perspectives and the different agreements that have been arrived at in many many years of negotiation after the fighting,” Marcos said
“But we need the time to do it in properly. So I think it is time to stop talking about deadlines, it is time to stop talking about rushing the legislative process on something so complicated, so complex, so noble and so important,” he added.
Marcos said that the hearing of the panel on Monday, for instance, showed that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the first Moro group to sign a peace agreement with the Philippine government, was not consulted in the process that culminated in the drafting of the BBL.
“The Framework Agreement (on the Bangsamoro), the Comprehensive Agreement (on Bangsamoro) and the drafting of the BBL were done with very little involvement by the MNLF,” Marcos noted.
He said MNLF leaders are concerned that the gains earned through their struggle that led to their signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Jakarta Agreement with the Philippine government are not incorporated in the draft BBL and in the structure of the Bangsamoro government.
Marcos noted too that the peace negotiations were exclusively done between the Philippine panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Panel.
“Clearly, the MNLF feels that they have a part to play; it is an opinion that I agree with,” Marcos said.
In addition, Marcos said the MNLF raised concerns about the apparent bias for MILF in the formation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and, eventually the organization of the Bangsamoro government.
In general the MNLF feels the BBL to be a “partial implementation” of the provisions of the Tripoli and Jakarta Agreements, but Marcos said the group wants the final version of the law as “inclusive” as possible so as to address the concerns of all the stakeholders.
As far as his committee is concerned, Marcos said the right time to present its version of the BBL is “when we feel we are comfortable that we have gotten it right.”
Marcos said he will conduct another hearing on May 25 for the Sultanates and the indigenous people (IP) of Mindanao, and another one at a latter date for local executives in areas within or near the core territories of Bangsamoro before they can sit down to prepare the committee report on BBL.