“The Senate Committee on Local Government will craft a substitute Bangsamoro Basic Law that adheres to the original intent of the peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.” Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., chairman of the said committee, issued this statement on Tuesday during a TV interview.
The statement was in response a question asked on how the senate panel intends to address the issue over the proposed parliamentary form of government for the Bangsamoro government under the draft BBL. Sen. Bongbong further said, “We must be very cautious and ensure that if we would propose amendments they would still be true to the original intent of the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro) and other related agreements the MILF had signed with the Philippine government.”
“The proposed parliamentary form of government for the Bangsamoro government is very fundamental to the proposal of the MILF so if it is subjected to a major revision they might not accept our version altogether,” he added.
Sen. Bongbong said he expects a contentious debate on this issue as constitutional experts are divided on their opinion on this feature of the draft BBL.
There are legal experts who had opined that a parliamentary system is not allowed to exist under our unitary and republican form of government, Marcos noted.
“In some of the constitutional issues the opinion of legal experts are almost unanimous. In the matter of parliamentary form of government there are also those who say it is not expressly prohibited under our constitution,” Sen. Bongbong said.
In earlier statements, Marcos said that in writing the substitute bill, his committee puts the task of addressing the constitutional issues against the draft BBL as its highest priority.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bongbong welcomed the turnover of 75 high powered firearms and the decommissioning of 145 combatants from the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces as prescribed in the peace pact between the government and the Moro rebel group.
“This is an encouraging development. To some extent it will help restore public confidence that the MILF is sincere in fulfilling its part in the peace agreement,” the Senator said.
He also noted that the goal of any peace process is to arrive at decommissioning stage because once the guns are silenced war ceases too.
“This is an important step, albeit a small one. Even if we cannot really say there was significant reduction in the MILF forces, because estimates put MILF fighters at 15,000, it is an important step as a symbol of their participation in the peace process,” he added.