Bangsamoro bill hangs

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THE Bangsamoro draft law is not likely to be submitted to Congress anytime soon because the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has refused to accept what it called a “drastically altered” measure.

The head of the government peace panel, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, admitted that no final draft has been made because negotiations have stalled over significant disagreements on the proposed law that aims to create a Bangsamoro entity that will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Ferrer said the approval of the draft measure had been greatly delayed because “there continue to be significant points of differences” between the two panels.

She noted that the government “stands firm” in its stance that the proposed law should “withstand political and legal scrutiny and be acceptable to various stakeholders, and the nation as a whole.”


“We will not and cannot move forward in the roadmap toward the establishment of the Bangsamoro unless we hurdle this crucial stage,” Ferrer said.

Following a “surprise meeting” between President Benigno Aquino 3rd and MILF Chairman Murad Ibrahim in Japan last month, the MILF’s chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, raised concerns over how the version of the bill drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has been “heavily diluted.”

Because of the stalemate, Aquino and Murad will again meet this week to thresh out contentious issues.

The MILF confirmed the holding of the meeting in its website.

“The meeting is necessary in threshing out issues confronting both sides on the draft Bangsa­mo­ro Basic Law.

The purpose of the proposed meeting is to save the peace process in the light of major alterations made by Mala­ca­ñang’s legal team on the draft BBL,” the MILF said.

But Ferrer maintained that the changes were made so that the measure “will pass through regular legislation in Congress and therefore must fall within the parameters of the Constitution.”

She gave assurances that the government was “not throwing in the towel” on the peace process. Earlier this month, the two panels met for four days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but achieved only “modest progress.”

“We have been trying to stretch these parameters to accommodate the ideas that have been put in the BBL, in addition to what have been put in the signed documents. But it is very clear we cannot overstep the boundaries of the Constitution,” Ferrer said.

She noted that the draft BBL retains the “key features that will distinguish the ARMM from the Bangsamoro,” including the parliamentary form of government; a parliament with more than 50 members made up of district, party list and reserved seats; an autonomous government that will enjoy high fiscal autonomy; and a transition arrangement where the MILF’s brand of leadership will be tested.

“All of us want the BBL draft to be submitted to Congress as soon as possible. But we cannot substitute haste with prudence. Whatever delay we are experiencing now is intended to avoid further difficulties after the bill is submitted to Congress,” Ferrer told reporters in an interview.

“We understand the apprehensions of people who have long fought the government and now entering a new stage where they can actually participate in the government. But what we want is a mutually acceptable draft as the two panels have agreed to accomplish. We ask the MILF to reflect on how we can arrive at this,” she said.

Aquino earlier said he wants the BBL to be submitted to Congress before the opening of its second regular session on July 28.

The delays have raised concerns the BBL may not be passed in time for a referendum on the creation of the Bangsamoro to be held simultaneously with the 2016 elections.

Ferrer admitted that finishing the draft measure will take some time.

“We have not been able to finish the review. May mga parts na naayos, may mga parts na hindi pa naaayos kaya medyo marami pa talagang pag-uusapan [There were parts that were fixed, there were parts that were not so we have a lot more to discuss],”she said.

Ferrer added that a delayed submission of the draft law “is better than trying to rush the submission in time for the opening of Congress because we feel that there are issues we need to discuss.”

Last week, the draft Bangsamoro law was returned by Malacañang to the transition commission for revision.

Ferrer explained that the two panels had to consult their principals after engaging in “workshops” during the past days to resolve contentious issues.

“A lot of issues remain pending. So at this point hindi pa talaga namin masasabi [we can’t say]that we have come up with a mutually acceptable draft that we can jointly endorse to the President together with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission,” she said.

A peace agreement between the government and the MILF was signed in March this year.

The President had said he will certify the bill as urgent so that a Bangsamoro autonomous region can be installed before he steps down in 2016.

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11 Comments

  1. Vladi Celestino on

    Nasaan napunta na naman ang pera na ginastos dyan sa usapan na yan. Siguradong billions na naman yan at ang masakit pera ng bayan ang ginamit. May mga personal na nakinabang na naman. Puro photoshoot lang walang substance.

  2. gabriela silang on

    anyare? all the while we were made to believe that the peace deal was crafted pursuant to the dictates of the constitution. why all the problems and disagreements now after it was trumpeted worldwide that peace is within reach and all provisions were in conformity with the constitution? lie if you have to but pls dont take us for a fool.

  3. The made a haste arriving to a conclusion to the Kuala Lumpur talks and made it appear that everything has been agreed and came up with a signing ceremony with Malaysia’s PM as guest – PUBLICITY TO THE WORLD?

    Have they considered the Tripoli Ageement during their discussion?

  4. This news article is outstanding journalism in the sense that I read through the whole thing and did not find what the issues are that are delaying submission of the BBL to Congress – what are the disagreements? Is this transparent reporting? Is the govt/MILF keeping the lid on the nego from the public? IN writing a news story, the reporter must follow the 4W’s and 1H – what, who, where, when, and how. Pweh! Poor journalism

  5. Wishing and hoping that this experiment with the brother muslims in the south will not break our country. We should draw inspiration from America how her west was won. We should stick to the fundamentals “One Nation, Indivisible, with Justice for All.”
    While it’s not an easy national aim, let us learn a lesson from american experience. A country now a one nation and indivisible. “Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa” Let us have the political will to fight for, no matter what the PRIZE OR difficulty it might bring now or in the future.

  6. Lord Chimera on

    Considering that BSA has not kept one of his elections promises like say the FOI bill one should expect the BBL suffer the same fate…

  7. Philippines a predominantly Christian nation, may not be the most ideal or model country under a democratic form of gov’t but many people from other countries like China ( became business tycoon) and Middle East , majority are Muslims sought freedom and migrated into the Philippines and even allowed by the former Pres Marcos to build a Mosque in the very heart of Manila and just wonder what in the world now those Muslims would sponsor terrorism and even wish to have the right and encroach into the Filipino Christians way of life who only wish to live in peace and now they want Mindanao as theirs and form an Islamic state when they found that it has rich mineral resources. BBL and Sharia Law is not an acceptable law that is inherent to the freedom and peace Filipino Christians are used to , respect the dignity and right to practice freedom of faith which Iglesia ni Kristo as an example.

  8. Dominador D. Canastra on

    This is all because in his simplified vision of the Mindanao problem, President Aquino and the OPAPP gave impossible marching orders to the GPH panel and these people, including now Supreme Court associate justice Marvic Leonen, said “Yes, Boss” to him–not being honest enough to tell him the complexity of the problem and the error in his simplified version.

    NUTS! NUTS! NUTS!

  9. Arch. Lito L. Mallonga on

    The Issues can never be resolved specially Malaysia is involved in
    this undertaking. First of all most of our brother Muslims can only
    be united if SABAH can be resolved. Malaysia does not want to talk
    and seat down and resolved once and for all. We all know SABAH
    is part of PH that was being rented to them. Malaysia is part of the
    Commonwealth with Britain it was entrusted to Malaysia and they
    took advantage of it due to its resources (OIL).

    Now through technology other alternatives in providing energy
    power that are more environmental friendly like Natural Gas,
    Geothermal, Wind, Tidal Solar that can used to reduce the used
    of Fossil Fuel. Though we can not totally eliminate the use of it ,
    it can surely help Mother Earth to cool down the melting of
    most of the ice in ALASKA including Climate Change
    that everybody in all the different parts of the world including PH
    are waiting for. We have to start somewhere don ‘we.

  10. This is a result of making and presenting bills which are not researched and studied very carefully. A vintage PNoy action just to show any kind of accomplishment. Apparently a total waste of money because King PNoy already started distribution money to the Bangsamoro using DAP funds. How stupid can this administration get, led by King PNoy himself. Yet, PNoy already rewarded Marvic Leonen with a seat in the Supreme Court which it looks like he does not deserve. This administration keeps of fooling us, making mistakes at the expense of public money.

    • Tama ba ang nabasa ko na ang binigay ni Pnoy sa MILF ay P8.6B na galling sa DAP? Papaano kung hindi matuloy ang BBL, ibabalik ba ng MILF ang pera na galling sa KABAN ng BAYAN o bibili nila ito ng armas para ipanglaban sa GRP? Tanong lang po, Pnoy?