MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr appealed for flexibility and trust in the parliamentary process in crafting the Bangsamoro bill, after chief negotiators from both government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) voiced concerns of him watering down the original draft.
“Wag naman sila yung basta ‘yung original lang, original lang. Wala na silang tatanggapin kundi ‘yung original. Eh kung ganoon, eh wala tayong magagawa,” he said in a DZIQ interview Sunday, August 16.
(I hope they wouldn’t be too rigid as to stick only with the original [draft bill]. They will not accept anything but the original. If that is the case, we cannot do anything.)
An impending Bangsamoro law seeks to establish an autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao, after decades of secessionist rebellion. The original Bangsamoro bill was part of 16 years of peace negotiations between government and the MILF, the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal had warned against a diluted Bangsamoro bill and challenged legislators to honor the comprehensive agreement the government and the MILF signed last year.
Marcos, however, explained that his substitute bill had to do away with some provisions from the original draft to ensure the law’s constitutionality. The senator is the chairman of the local government committee handling the measure. (READ: DOCUMENT: Marcos submits overhauled Bangsamoro bill)
“I’m sorry to hear Chairman Iqbal to be so inflexible, at ‘yun tinitingnan lamang nila ay ‘yung original… Eh papano naman yun kung unconstitutional?” he asked.
(I’m sorry to hear Chairman Iqbal to be so inflexible, and they are only looking at the original [draft bill])… What if it was unconstitutional?)
Not yet final
Marcos’ new substitute bill was not met with all-out support from either camp.
Iqbal reportedly lamented the absence of the preamble in Marcos’ substitute bill, calling the bill without a “soul” over a radio interview.
In an ABS-CBNnews.com report, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer also said Marcos’ bill grants less power to the Bangsamoro chief minister than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor.
This would “amount to a diminution of the autonomous powers when the intent is to allow for more meaningful autonomy,” she was quoted as saying.
But Marcos explained that the substitute bill will still undergo a period of fine-tuning and amendments under the legislative process. The period of interpellations at the Senate begins on August 17.
“Marami pang pagkakataon para pag-usapan, marami pang pagkakataon para palagay ko pagka ako’y magpaliwanag sa kanila para sabihin ganito ang ginawa,” he said.
(There are still many opportunities to talk, many opportunities for me to, I think, explain to them why it was crafted this way.)
“At sa palagay ko naman ‘yung final version kasi maisasama na natin lahat ng mga suggestion, lahat ng amendment, lahat ng mapapag-usapan, lahat ng mga isyu,” he added.
(And I think the final version will include all suggestions, amendments, everything that we’ve talked about, all the issues.)
No schedule for talks with MILF yet
Marcos, however, admitted that there is no scheduled meeting between senators and MILF representatives yet.
He said this will eventually happen, given consultations needed for the bill.
He explained that not all of the “ideas” that led to the changes were his but were fruits of Senate hearings. – Rappler.com
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