Bangsamoro draft law submission to Aquino delayed again

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Oops, they did it again.

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Delay the submission of the draft Bangsamoro law, that is.

After announcing on Sunday that the document will be submitted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday, the Palace said the draft will be submitted “within the week.”

Quoting Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the final draft will be submitted to Aquino this week and to Congress “by end of August.”

“All the crucial issues have been discussed and clarified. On this basis, the final draft BBL is being prepared for submission to the President. The parties are targeting submission of final draft to President within the week and submission to Congress by the end of August,” he told Palace reporters.

Coloma on Sunday said Aquino will receive the draft bill from his legal advisers on Monday. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government peace panels reviewed the draft early this month.

The review meetings were called amid mounting concern that the draft bill may not faithfully reflect the fundamental provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed last year.

“The President will prioritize and give his attention to this bill so it can be passed by Congress . . . as soon as possible in accordance [with]the road map and timetable,” Coloma said.

In the latest joint statement signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Bangsamoro Transmission Commission (BTC) Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, the draft was now called Basic Bangsamoro Law from Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The joint statement was issued on August 15.

President Aquino was supposed to have certified the bill as “urgent” when he delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28 but the two panels were still in the process of crafting a “mutually acceptable” draft.

In last year’s SONA, the President urged Congress to pass the BBL by 2014 to give enough time for the transition period before the election of the first set of officials of the Bangsamoro government in May 2016.

The Bangsamoro, according to the government-MILF roadmap, should be in place by June 30, 2016, the same day Aquino ends his six-year term.

“If we are able to legislate the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the end of the year and conduct the necessary plebiscite, we will be able to give the Bangsamoro Transition Authority one and a half years to show positive change,” Aquino said in his SONA on July 28. “Should this be delayed, however, the period for proving that it was right to choose the path of peace will naturally be shortened.”

Once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed and signed into law by Aquino, a plebiscite will be conducted in the envisioned core territory of the Bangsamoro to ratify the new government that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by 2016.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has repeatedly said they are preparing for a smooth transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.

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