If President Rodrigo Duterte will fulfill his promise that a Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed during his tenure, he will have to throw his support to another human rights body: the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission.
This is because Article 9, Section 7 of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission “which would be an independent and impartial office within the Bangsamoro that will have the same powers and functions as the national Commission on Human Rights and as may be provided for by the Bangsamoro Parliament to ensure the protection and promotion of the human rights of all the Bangsamoro inhabitants.”
The proposed Bangsamoro law was a product of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) inked in March 2014.
“All laws and policies, including customary laws, shall conform to international human rights and humanitarian standards. The rights under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international human rights instruments shall be guaranteed by the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government,” the draft Bangsamoro law reads.
The proposed Bangsamoro measure submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to President Duterte last July also states that the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission will be composed of five members, including the chairman. All five will be appointed by the President, based on the recommendation of the Bangsamoro Region’s chief minister.
Furthermore, the composition of the commission should reflect the ethnic distribution of the population of the Bangsamoro. The chairman should be a lawyer, and majority of the members of the commission should preferably be members of the Philippine bar or counselors at law.
The terms of office and other qualifications and disqualifications of the members of the commission shall be provided by the Bangsamoro Parliament.
“The Commission shall submit a report on its activities and performance at least every quarter to the Bangsamoro Parliament. Other state instrumentalities in the Bangsamoro shall assist the Commission and ensure impartiality, dignity, and effectiveness,” the proposed Bangsamoro law states.
“The Commission shall have a coordinative and complementary relationship with the national Commission on Human Rights in carrying out its mandate,” it added.
The President will grace the First Bangsamoro Assembly to be held at the Old Capitol Site, Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Monday, November 27, but the Palace has yet to respond to the query of this newspaper on what issues the President will address.