About 80 percent of the Malacañang version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) have been amended in order for it to be acceptable not only to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but also to other stakeholders in Mindanao, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday.
Marcos, who heads the Senate Committee on Local Government that had disapproved the draft BBL, noted that they had modified more than 90 provisions of the proposed law that would embody a peace agreement between Manila and the MILF to address concerns over its legality and inclusivity.
But he clarified that not all of the 80 percent required major amendments, with some only needing use of more appropriate words and proper punctuations although some provisions were deleted from the proposed law.
“I intend to finish writing the BBL today [Thursday], have it printed and distributed tomorrow and sponsor it on the floor by next week,” Marcos said.
The senator did not specify what provisions in the BBL were deleted, except that some of the provisions he removed were the same ones that were deleted by members of the House of Representatives from the chamber’s version.
The House deleted 28 provisions from the original draft.
Of the provisions that had undergone major amendments, Marcos cited as an example the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
The BTA shall serve as the interim government of the Bangsamoro during the transition period and shall exercise executive and legislative functions. Marcos said under the original concept of the BTA, the body will be led by and composed of members of the MILF.
According to the senator, in order not to overly favor the MILF in the BTA, he tried to open up the membership of the body and allow other groups to have representation in the BTA to make it inclusive.
Marcos said while the BTA will still be led by the MILF, indigenous people, sultanates, council of elders, the business sector and other parties that will be affected by the enactment of the BBL can expect to be represented in the BTA.
“It [BTA] will still be led by the MILF, but in order for it to be inclusive, we have to make it easier for other groups and sectors to have representatives [there],” he explained.
Marcos said even the composition of the Bangsamoro Parliament will also be changed to give more seats to certain sectors so that everybody will have a role to play.
Based on the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro Parliament shall have at least 60 members–50 percent shall be elected through a system of proportional representation, 40 percent from single member districts and 10 percent shall be elected to reserved seats representing key sectors in the Bangsamoro.
It shall have two reserved seats each for non-Moro indigenous communities and settler communities.
Women shall also have a reserved seat.
The Senate is expected to start plenary debates on the substitute BBL on August 17, a week after Marcos introduced it to the plenary.
The senator said the chamber did not set any timetable for the plenary debates to be able to give lawmakers enough time to introduce additional amendments for further improvement of the proposed law.