MANILA, Philippines – Is it consitutional to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)?
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged lawmakers on Monday, July 13, to leave this question to the Supreme Court (SC), instead of addressing this through "substantive revisions" of the law.
"The suggestion of many experts, we believe, is wise – that such issues be left to the Supreme Court for judicial review. If left out through substantive revisions, the Supreme Court can no longer re-insert them," the CBCP said in a statement after its bi-annual plenary.
The BBL aims to create a more powerful autonomous Muslim region – a goal much assailed after a bloodbath in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, was blamed on Muslim rebels negotiating peace with the Philippine government. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: The Bangsamoro peace deal at a glance)
Bishops pointed out that lawmakers should "seriously and fairly consider" the different opinions on the BBL, "so as not to imperil the requirements of social justice for the Bangsamoro."
The CBCP statement came as senators debate if the BBL adheres to the Constitution. Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate is considering to pass the BBL by October. (READ: Cardinal vs Bongbong: Correct your father's sins vs Muslims)
'Everyone wants a kind of BBL'
In its statement Monday, the CBCP also clarified that it is not endorsing any draft of the BBL. It is, however, backing a BBL "that is rooted in social justice."
"Like everyone else, we bishops want a just and lasting peace. For this reason, we want a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is rooted in social justice and promotes social justice," the CBCP said.
"We want a BBL that effectively addresses the injustices suffered by the Bangsamoro as well as the injustices suffered by indigenous peoples and various religious minorities in the proposed Bangsamoro area," the CBCP explained.
The bishops added that they want a BBL that:
"It is a vision that goes beyond the proposals now being discussed in our legislature," the CBCP said.
"Everyone wants peace, everyone wants a kind of BBL." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.