Bangsamoro Transition Commission meets with solons

The first meeting does not take up specific issues about the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which the commission will draft and submit to Congress for approval

MANILA, Philippines – After the conclusion of the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the road leads to Congress, where the basic law that would create the Bangsamoro will be crafted and passed.

On Wednesday, January, the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) met for the first time with congressmen, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (READ: Meet the members of the Transition Commission)

MILF chairman Mohagher Iqbal led the commission, wearing another hat as BTC chairman. The BTC is the body tasked to draft the Basic Law that would provide the legal framework for the Bangsamoro political entity, to be submitted to Congress.

During the closed-door meeting, said Basilan Representative Jim Hataman-Saliman, lawmakers expressed support for the the recently-signed annex on normalization that would pave the way for the completion of the final peace pact, and for the work of the Transition Commission. 

Hataman said the lawmakers and the commissioners did not discuss specific provisions or concerns regarding the Bangsamoro Basic Law. 

“They just paid a courtesy call and sought some advice,” Saliman said. 

Saliman is the chairman of the House committee on peace, reconciliation, and unity. 

Other lawmakers present were Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Albay Rep Al Francis Bichara, Basilan Rep Jim Hataman Saliman, Sultan Kudarat Rep Arnulfo Go, Muntinlupa Rep Rodolfo Biazon, Cebu Rep Luigi Quisumbing, Zamboanga Rep Lilia Nuño, and Amin Rep Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman.

The meeting lasted for about an hour.  

Iqbal did not entertain questions from the media. 

One signature away

After 16 years, the government and the MILF is one signature away from sealing a final peace pact after both parties on Saturday, January 25, signed the annex on normalization. The agreement would require the MILF to decommission its firearms. (WATCH: Historic firearms deal paves way for peace)

Earlier, the parties inked agreements on transitional mechanimswealth-sharing, and power-sharing.

Both sides hope to install the Bangsamoro government by 2016, before President Benigno Aquino III steps down from office. 

Iqbal earlier said the Transition Commission has set an April deadline for the completion of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will be certified as urgent by the President once it is submitted to Congress. 

Once Congress passes the basic law, it will be subjected to a plebiscite. Should the law be approved, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be deemed abolished. An interim Bangsamoro Transition Authority will take over until the election of officials in 2016, simutaneous with the presidential elections.

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