Bangsamoro draft law to Congress this week

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Malacañang is hoping to submit the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress this week, a Palace official said on Sunday.

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd is set to certify the bill as urgent to fast-track legislative action on the measure, which will create a new political entity in Mindanao.

Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte noted that the timeline for the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro bill remains on track, noting that it will be submitted to Congress before the end of the month.

“I am not aware of any change in the timetable. Ang alam ko po [What I know] is that remains to be the timetable, that’s end of August, na isusumite naman sa Kongreso [that it will be submitted to Congress],” Valte said in a radio interview.

The draft BBL was submitted to the President for review on Wednesday night.

Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda has affirmed that quino’s inputs are still needed on 20 percent to 30 percent of the measure.

“The President has seen the submitted draft so he is going through it,” Lacierda said in an interview.

“More than 70 percent have been agreed upon so we are looking at a few provisions that would still need the President’s observation,” he added, without specifying the provisions that need to be reviewed.

Once the review is completed, Aquino intends to certify the measure as urgent for its swift approval in Congress, Lacierda said.

“Certainly, the President knows the importance of this agreement and we are all waiting for it to be submitted to Congress,” he added.

When asked if Aquino can amend the draft BBL, Lacierda said the peace panels have already deferred to the President to make a final review of the draft Bangsamoro law.

“Hopefully, we will be able to see the reaction of the President and if he will take some action. Between now and then, we are hoping that we will be able to submit the draft Bangsomoro Basic Law within the agreed timeline,” he added.

A product of the final peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed last March 27, the proposed Bangsamoro law seeks to establish a Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission crafted the initial draft of the measure that was submitted to the Office of the President.

Malacañang, however, introduced changes to the document, which the MILF said “heavily diluted” the proposed law and, in effect, rendered the envisioned Bangsamoro government less autonomous than the ARMM.

The final peace accord requires the former rebel group to gradually decommission its arms and troops while political commitments, including the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, are achieved.

Before the envisioned Bangsamoro government can be established, the measure must first be approved by Congress and by the people in a plebiscite.

Both sides hope to finish the transition phase by 2016 before Aquino steps down from office.

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