Ferrer urges Congress to pass Bangsamoro bill as session resumes
MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of the resumption of Congress session on Tuesday, November 3, chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer again urged lawmakers to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In a statement sent to the press on Monday, Ferrer called on Congress leaders – Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr – to "collectively work together in passing the landmark legislation."
With elections less than a year away, Ferrer said, "passing the basic law that will establish the Bangsamoro region [this Congress] will allow the next president of the Republic and the next Congress to focus on other measures and bills."
"Let us act with wisdom and with full appreciation of the pressing and immediate need to correct this historical disunity,” she added. (READ: Ferrer: Pass Bangsamoro Basic Law before APEC, not December)
MILF ready for decomissioning
“As soon as the law is passed, thousands of MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) weapons and combatants will be decommissioned," Ferrer also noted.
"Our mechanisms are ready to undertake this, especially the IDB (Independent Decommissioning Body) and the Joint Task Force on Decommissioned Combatants and Their Communities."
Based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the MILF's decommissioning will be conducted gradually once the BBL is passed.
This means the next step of the decommissioning process, involving one-third of the militant group's weapons, will only be done in the period between the passage of the basic law and before its ratification. (READ: A historic opportunity for lasting peace)
CAB is an agreement signed by the government and MILF.
House hears Ferrer
House Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong echoed Ferrer's call.
On Tuesday, the Muslim leader also issued a statement expressing confidence that the legislative branch would be able to pass the controversial law, which some legal experts consinder unconstitutional.
"I believe that Congress will pass a basic law that would preserve the integrity of the Muslim Filipinos as active participants in the development of the Filipino nation," Balindong said in a statement posted on Congress' website.
He also said he believes in the lower house's "political will" to finalize the said legislation amidst the problem of reaching a quorum during hearings.
"The 16th congress may not be enjoying the luxury of time, but with political will, there is time to craft a lasting policy for peace to reign upon generations of Filipinos yet to be born," he said.
"I refuse to believe that the future of peace can just be thrown to the dust bin of history by a mere lack of quorum," he added.
Ferrer has criticized both chambers of Congress for absenteeism, one of causes of delay in the bill's passage. (READ: Bangsamoro bill reaches House plenary)
The BBL's submission was originally set before the session adjourned last October 9. But due to several conflicting opinions and lack of quorum, Drilon and Belmonte agreed to move the deadline to December 16.
During a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) last week, President Benigno Aquino III said the BBL is his top priority bill. – Rappler.com