PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday said he will meet with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad next week to hammer out the final version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which he hopes to submit to Congress before he delivers his state of the nation address (SONA) in July.
“We’re putting in all of the details and I asked him if it would be possible to meet sometime next week either their panels or we in particular or our designated representatives to thresh it out and come up with that proposed measure and give it to Congress even before the SONA,” Aquino said in an interview.
The two leaders met in Hiroshima, Japan recently during Aquino’s visit there. They first met in Japan more than two years ago to discuss the holding of peace talks. The meeting eventually led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro last March.
President Aquino described his recent meeting with Murad as “quick,” prompting him to seek another discussion to talk about the details of the BBL which remains pending at the Office of the President since it was submitted there by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission almost two months ago.
“Basically, we discussed the output of the Transition Commission at saka medyo mabilis dahil that was an unscheduled meeting and I think I had something like a ten-minute gap.
So may broadstrokes on how to come up with the basic law that will ensure swift passage in Congress,” he said.
He explained that the review by the Palace legal team is taking time because of certain details that have to be firmed up.
“May kasabihan nga ang mga Amerikano, di ba, ‘the devil is in the details.’ So ‘yung Framework Agreement is like, ‘yon na nga, framework,” Aquino stressed.
He clarified, however, that there is no disagreement on the draft but that there is a need to further refine it.
“I tasked my legal team to review it . . . there is an agreement on how you actually work . . . There’s a need to further refine the language so that it really, really states a meeting of the minds of both parties,” the President explained.
On Thursday, Aquino disclosed that Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles met with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. “primarily to hasten the process of coming up with that proposed measure that both parties can fully support and endorse.”
“I can assure the Filipino people that we will be exerting all efforts to ensure that this measure is passed in a timely manner because the dream still is to give the new Bangsamoro government time to demonstrate its abilities and the time that they need as a minimum is a year and six months. So, we’re hoping that all the steps will be done that they can sit already in office by January of 2015,” said the president.