SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate local government committee, on Sunday assured the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other concerned parties that his substitute bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will undergo several processes and can still be revised.
Marcos, who recently sponsored the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) in the Senate, said he is ready to justify the amendments he introduced to Malacanang’s version of the BBL.
“I am confident that if the bill will be discussed thoroughly and I will be given a chance to clearly explain the amendments, I believe that they [MILF] will understand,” he told a radio interview.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal has expressed dismay over Marcos’ bill, saying it took away provisions that have been the product of 17 years of negotiations.
He likened the BLBAR to a person that has no soul and called on Congress to improve the draft.
But Marcos said he remains optimistic that he can convince the MILF that BLBAR is right and supportive of the peace process.
“If we see that there were mistakes or shortcomings in the proposed BLBAR, there is still a chance to come up with revisions,” he added.
The Senate is expected to begin interpellations on the BLBAR today.
In a meeting with vice governors of Mindanao, Marcos said the BLBAR is beneficial and fair to Moros and non-Moros alike.
During the Mindanao Vice Governors’ Conference held at Cagayan De Oro City, the lawmaker added that he did “the right thing’’ in crafting the substitute bill.
“I believe we tried very hard to be fair to everyone concerned,” Marcos said.
The senator added that while he tried his best to correct the flaws of the BBL draft, inputs from other senators can be included during the period of amendment and in the bicameral conference committee.
According to Marcos, there is no deadline in passing the Bangsamoro measure.
“But like the MILF that acknowledged the possibility of failing to have a final peace pact with the government in this administration, I too think that if we cannot make it in this administration, maybe [we can]in the next [administration],” he said.
Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat, also a guest speaker in the Mindanao gathering, said some revisions he wanted included in the House of Representative’s version of the BBL found its way in the substitute bill filed by Marcos in the Senate on August 10.
WITH BENCYRUS G. ELLORIN