As part of his vow to consult all stakeholders in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has invited the sultanates and the indigenous people (IPs) of Mindanao to a hearing on Monday to hear their views and concerns on BBL.
According to Marcos, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, the proceeding on Monday is the penultimate hearing of his panel on the BBL.
To wrap up consultations on BBL, Marcos said the last hearing scheduled on June 3 will focus on concerns of local executives in areas to be included as core territories of the Bangsamoro under the BBL, as well as in adjacent local government units.
“We want to know the sentiments of the sultanates about BBL. From what we learned in our recent hearings, they said they were never consulted in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation that would be implemented through the BBL,” Marcos said.
“Unless BBL addresses the concerns of the majority of the stakeholders, and not just those of the MILF, I’m afraid we will not be able to realize our dream of a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao,” he added.
Among the guests in Monday’s hearing include Esmail Kiram II, who was installed as the Sultan of Sulu in 2013 following the death of his predecessor Jamalul Kiram III, as well as representatives of sultanates in other areas of Mindanao.
Also invited in the hearing Monday are representatives from indigenous peoples of Mindanao.
“For centuries, the IPs have been living in their respective communities in Mindanao, with a culture, tradition and language distinct from Muslim inhabitants. We have to ensure too that the rights of the IPs are recognized and protected under the BBL," Marcos said.
Marcos earlier conducted a hearing for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the first Moro rebel group that later renounced armed struggle and signed peace pacts with the Philippine government, including the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Jakarta Agreement.
Yet many MNLF leaders expressed concern they were left out in the cold with respect to BBL negotiations.
Apart from addressing the issue of inclusivity, Marcos vowed to amend certain provisions of the draft BBL to remedy conflicts with the constitution and flaws of the proposed law with respect to administration.
Marcos said that since the issues surrounding BBL are so complex and multi-faceted, it would likely be difficult for the Senate to pass it by June 10, the last session day before the Upper Chamber goes into its sine die adjournment.
“As I said before, the top priority is getting it right,” Marcos stressed.