Draft Bangsamoro law to be submitted to Congress in July

Angela Casauay
Draft Bangsamoro law to be submitted to Congress in July


Congress only has 5 months to beat President Aquino's target deadline to pass by the end of 2014 the basic law that will create the replacement of ARMM

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang will not rush the submission to Congress of the draft law that would create a new autonomous entity in Mindanao. Instead of preparing it in time for the legislative session to adjourn, the Executive will transmit the bill when session resumes in July. 

“At present, efforts have already been made to coordinate with the Senate and House leadership to ensure that the draft (Bangsamoro Basic Law) is submitted to Congress when sessions resume in July,” a statement signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chairman Mohagher Iqbal said. 

Malacañang said it acknowledges the “ugency behind the immediate passage” of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, but also recognizes the need for a “thorough, extensive and comprehensive review of the draft.” 

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will put into a legal framework the final peace pact between the government and former rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – the product of 17 years of negotiations. 

The 15-member BTC – composed of representatives from key sectors in the south – crafted the draft law. It is undergoing legal review by Malacañang. 

Although the draft law has yet to be released to the public, constitutional experts, including Senator Miriam Santiago and the Philippine Constitution Association, have raised concerns about the constitutionality of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27. 

The CAB seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an entity enjoying wider fiscal and political powers, aimed at ending 40 years of armed conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands. (INFOGRAPHIC: The Bangsamoro peace deal at a glance


Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr earlier asked Malacañang to submit the proposed law after the President’s State of the Nation Address on the 4th Monday of July since lawmakers won’t be able to take up the bill even if it is submitted before Congress adjourns its 1st regular session on Wednesday, June 11. 

Belmonte reiterated his position in a press conference Tuesday, June 10. 

“We have all sorts of  [things] we want to deal with. Kung ipapasa ninyo sa ‘min ‘yan, parang natulog sa ‘min (If you submit that to us, it will be dormant). And we don’t like that to happen. But if it’s really ready, hopefully, two days after the SONA, give it to us and we will tackle it. But what’s the use of sending it to us now? I, myself, am against sending it to us now, although, as I understand it from information that I received, they have virtually [finished reviewing the text],” Belmonte said. 

With the development, Congress only has 5 months to beat President Benigno Aquino III’s target deadline to pass the basic law by the end of 2014. 

Malacañang is still positive the deadline would be met, said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Ang target pa rin ay ‘yung maisumite ito sa panahong maaring magkaroon ng sapat na talakayan at maipasa ito bago matapos ang kasalukuyang taon. Ang pinaka-focus natin ay ‘yung finished product, which is an enacted law, and we still believe that this is achievable within the original timeframe of within this year,” Coloma said.  

(Our target is still to submit this at the earliest possible time to give enough time for discussions and to pass this before this year ends. Our primary focus is the finished product, which is an enacted law, and we still believe that this is achievable within the original timeframe of within this year.)

Discussions on the draft law, which will be certified as urgent by the President, will coincide with budget deliberations that are usually held at the start of every regular session. 

Under the roadmap, the government and MILF peace panels hope to install the Bangsamoro political entity before Aquino steps down from office in 2016. 

Once the Bangsamoro Basic Law hurdles Congress, it will be subject to a plebiscite. If approved, an MILF-led transitional body will take over until the election of officials in the 2016 national elections. 

Unlike the ARMM, the Bangsamoro is designed to enjoy automatic appropriations and have a ministerial form of government, where a legislative assembly elected by the people elect a chief minister among themselves.  Rappler.com

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