Palace not losing hope on draft Bangsamoro law

Angela Casauay
Palace not losing hope on draft Bangsamoro law
The draft Bangsamoro law is not as bad as how Senate Bongbong Marcos described, the Palace spokesperson says

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is not losing hope on the proposed Bangsamoro basic law despite developments in the Senate. 

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Thursday, June 4, said he disagrees with the assessment of Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr that the BBL is a recipe for disaster. 

“I don’t believe that the BBL is as bad as how Senator Bongbong Marcos described… ‘it will lead to a road to perdition.’ We strongly disagree with that. In fact, it is a bill that will rather lead to a genuine and peaceful solution to the situation in Mindanao. It was done in consultation with all the stakeholders,” Lacierda said in a regular press briefing in Malacañang. 

Marcos on Wednesday, June 2, rejected the Bangsamoro bill and criticized its lack of inclusiveness. The senator said he will craft an alternative one incorporating discussions from the 14 public hearings that were held in Mindanao and Manila.  

The Bangsamoro bill implements the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed after 17 years of negotiations. It also incorporates unimplemented aspects of the 1996 peace agreement between the government and MILF’s rival group, the Moro National Liberation Front

Lacierda urged Marcos to consider the long process that the Bangsamoro bill went through. 

“To just substitute it [after]… several discussions before the Senate without looking into the entire process that we went through may perhaps be not as productive. Because it was really a product of an honest exchange between all the parties concerned,” Lacierda said. 

Before the bill was submitted to Congress, it underwent two months of review in Malacañang.The 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission crafted the first draft of the bill. 

The ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives approved it in May with amendments, retaining the parliamentary form of government and the proposed block grant mechanism. Lawmakers were, however, criticized for allegedly railroading the passage of the bill. 

At the Senate, meanwhile, majority of the senators have taken the position that the bill as submitted to Congress is unconstitutional. 

Lacierda issued a challenge to the Senate. 

“We certainly believe that the BBL is the solution to Mindanao. And if we see it happen in the House, we would like to see it also happen in the Senate where parties may have disagreements but they have kept the best interests of the people of Mindanao in their minds as they approve a BBL,” Lacierda said. 

The bill seeks to entrench a parliamentary form of autonomous regional government in Mindanao with greater powers and resources, which majority of senators find as constitutional. 

In her committee report, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said the BBL creates a sub-state – a usual step taken by states preparing for independence. The bill would also need charter change to be passed into law, the senator said. 

Lacierda said Malacañang continues to take the position that the bill is constitutional and the issue on whether it will be used as a vehicle for independence had already been settled during negotiations. 

“We are talking about one nation. Both parties have agreed that there will be just one state. So, there are powers that are ceded to…And there are powers that are clearly within the national government. So it’s still one country, one state. There is no other diminution of territoriality, all these elements of a state are still present. So, whatever reservations that Senator Bongbong Marcos may have, we hope that they will be resolved as soon as possible,” Lacierda said. – 

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