Dureza hopes no more Palace 'tinkering' of BBL draft

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza hopes President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer "tinker" with the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) after it is submitted to him on July 17. 

"Our recommendation is that as soon as the President receives it, he will turn it over to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President," said Dureza on Tuesday, July 11, during a Palace news briefing.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is set to submit its just-finished draft of the proposed BBL to Duterte on July 17 during a ceremony in Malacañang. 

Asked if Duterte will still review the document before submitting it to Congress, Dureza said he hopes the Palace will depart from how the administration of Benigno Aquino III handled their version of the BBL.

"Our recommendation is unlike what the previous administration did in which the Palace tinkered first with the BBL before bringing it to Congress," said Dureza.

He explained that any tinkering before submission to Congress will be a preemption of the legislature's mandate to decide on bills.

"You are preempting the department of government that has the full mandate and authority to deal [with] a bill...That's not the job of the executive department," said Dureza.

The President's only "point of touch" would be after both chambers of Congress approve the bill and it would be transmitted to Duterte for signing, he added.

But Dureza maintained that the final decision rests with the President.

"That's just our recommendation. The President can do whatever he pleases," he said.

The 21-member BTC completed the BBL draft on June 6. The draft includes the inputs of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction led by Muslimin Sema and Yusoph Jikiri. 

Government peace panel chairperson Irene Santiago said on June 8 that she hopes Duterte will certify the bill as urgent.

"We hope the President will mention it in the SONA and say, 'This is a priority bill for me,'" said Santiago. 

She hopes Congress can then take up the bill when its session resumes in July. 

The BBL draft to be submitted to Duterte on July 17, however, does not include inputs from the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari.  

The government is creating a separate panel to engage this faction which is expected to put forward amendments to Republic Act 9054 or the law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Dureza hopes the Misuari MNLF faction can submit their recommendation "as soon as possible" so that Congress will have enough time to harmonize the BBL draft crafted by the BTC and the inputs of Misuari's MNLF. 

"Congress cannot pass a law only for the MILF and another separate law for the MNLF. There's only one Bangsamoro territory and nation they call it. So Congress will have to look at both and then find out how they can harmonize, how they can converge both proposals," said Dureza. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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