AFTER weeks of delay, the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will finally be submitted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd today, Malacañang said on Sunday.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino is giving “utmost priority” to the passage of the Bangsamoro law, a product of the peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Coloma could not give a timetable on when the President would be able to review the draft so it could be submitted to Congress. He, however, said the measure is expected to be passed into law within the year and a plebiscite on it would be held in 2015.
The BBL was scheduled to be submitted to Congress in May this year but it was delayed because the MILF negotiating panel did not accept revisions made by Palace lawyers on the draft measure.
“Bagama’t may pagkaantala sa pagbubuo ng draft BBL, hindi natitinag ang determinasyon ni Pangulong Aquino hinggil sa pagkumpleto ng prosesong pangkapayapaan na maghahatid ng pangmatagalang estabilidad at kaunlaran sa Bangsamoro [Although the crafting of the draft was delayed, President Aquino’s determination to complete the peace process that will bring stability and progress in Bangsamoro has not wavered],” Coloma said.
The draft BBL aims to establish a Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In a previous interview, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said some of the major issues in the draft BBL were provisions on the structure of government and on fleshing out the annexes on power-sharing and wealth-sharing.
“The government stands firm that we want a BBL that can withstand political and legal scrutiny and be acceptable to various stakeholders, and the nation as a whole,” she added.
“It is very clear we cannot overstep the boundaries of the Constitution,” Ferrer said.
Aquino will certify as urgent the final draft, which will be submitted to Congress.
Once the draft BBL is passed into law, a plebiscite will be held in the areas that will constitute the Bangsamoro territory.
The government aims to put in place a Bangsamoro Transition Authority next year ahead of the 2016 elections.
The MILF and government peace panels had agreed on several resolutions that will form part of the draft Bangsamoro law.
Under the wealth-sharing annex, the Bangsamoro will also enjoy 100 percent of resources from non-metallic minerals such as sand, gravel and quarry and 75 percent of income from the exploration, development and utilization of metallic minerals within the region. Only income derived from fossil fuels and uranium shall be shared equally by the Bangsamoro with the central government.
Under the annex on power-sharing, the Bangsamoro assembly shall have at least 50 members representing district, party-list, sectoral and reserved seats. The assembly shall be headed by a Chief Minister, who shall be elected by majority votes from among the members of the assembly.
The national government shall have reserved powers on defense and external security, foreign policy, coinage and monetary policy, postal service, citizenship and naturalization, immigration, customs and tariff, common market and global trade and intellectual property rights.
The government and the Bangsamoro shall have 14 jointly-shared powers, including social security and pensions, land registration, pollution control, penology, coast guard, civil service and maintenance of national roads and bridges.
The Bangsamoro, on the other hand, shall have 58 exclusive powers, including tourism, creation of sources of revenue, power generation, ancestral domain and natural resources and management of all fishery, marine and aquatic resources within the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction.
The Bangsamoro government will also have authority and jurisdiction over the exploration, development and utilization of mines and minerals within its territory.