New Senate deadline for Bangsamoro bill: October

Angela Casauay

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New Senate deadline for Bangsamoro bill: October
This coincides with October's signing of the certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is eyeing a new deadline for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL), further constricting the timeline for the transition period. 

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the new Senate target for the Bangsamoro bill is October – the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections. 

Passing the BBL by October is vital for those running in 2016 to know whether the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will remain or if the parliamentary Bangsamoro autonomous region will replace it. 

“We need to beat (this deadline) because if we don’t pass the law by October, the law that will be implemented is the law that is based on the old structure,” Drilon said on Tuesday, June 2, in an interview with Bombo Radyo. 

Drilon said there is a possibility that Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr would not be able to submit the final committee report on the BBL before session adjourns on Thursday, June 11, since he is still holding committee hearings until Wednesday, June 3. 

At the House of Representatives, the bill formally reached the plenary on Monday, June 2, but the ability to sustain a quorum could prevent lawmakers from discussing it after opponents of the bill vowed to keep on questioning the quorum.  

The proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region is parliamentary in form, with a combination of district, proportional, and reserved seats. 

Under the proposed BBL, voters would elect their representatives, who in turn, would elect a chief minister among themselves. This is a departure from the current set up in the ARMM, where the regional governor and vice governor director can be chosen from the ballot. 

The unique set-up also requires the Bangsamoro to have special arrangements for the elections, compared to the unitary, presidential set-up in the rest of the country. 

Tight deadline 

The new deadline, however, constricts the already short period for the transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.

Once the House and the Senate approve the BBL, it will be subjected to a plebiscite in core areas for ratification. 

Depending on the kind of bill that comes out of Congress, the peace process has to overcome another hurdle. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago warned that the BBL will be questioned before the Supreme Court if controversial provisions are not amended. 

This would leave the transitional body being led by rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – the other party to the peace deal – less than 5 months to head the shift from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.

The MILF had hoped to have a 3-year transition period when negotiations started under the Aquino administration, but delays in the inking of the peace accord, as well as the submission of the law to Congress, and the political fallout from the Mamasapano clash, pushed back the timeline. (READ: Bangsamoro bill: 7 issues for PH, MILF to resolve) –

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