• Bangsamoro commission okays draft BBL law

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    The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has approved the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that seeks to create a Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao.

    Irene Santiago, head of the government implementing panel for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace accord, said the 21-member commission hopes to submit the draft to the Office of the President in the middle of June so that President Rodrigo Duterte can review it and endorse it to Congress in time for his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.

    “I am pleased to report that the Bangsamoro peace process is on track. The Bangsamoro Transition Commission approved the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law on Tuesday, June 6,” Santiago told reporters in a news conference in Davao City.

    “[We] are hoping and planning that the President will mention that in the SONA and say, ‘This is a priority bill for me,’” she added. “I have no doubt he will [certify the bill as urgent].”

    Former President Benigno Aquino 3rd had hoped to pass the measure during his term but a bungled anti-terrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015, where MILF fighters clashed with government troops, prompted critics to question the group’s sincerity.

    The incident also opened the BBL to intense scrutiny, with legal experts, including former magistrates, saying the measure contained unconstitutional provisions.

    Santiago said the BTC had used the original BBL as the basic document for the draft that they have crafted but she added that there were some changes that made it “better.”

    “I think this is even a better version of the BBL,” she said. “I found that everybody was very pleased with the draft that they made.”

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