PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has expanded the functions and prolonged the life of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) headed by Mohagher Iqbal to ensure the existence of the body until the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been ratified.
The President signed Executive Order (EO) 187 that amended an earlier order that created the BTC, which was required to come up with a draft BBL that will serve as the basis of a new Bangsamoro political entity in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The proposed BBL has been pending in Congress since it was submitted many months ago.
The transition commission will cease to exist once the BBL is enacted.
EO 187, however, extended the life of the BTC until after the law has been ratified through a plebiscite, after which the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be created.
Under the CAB and under Section 5 of EO 120, Series of 2012, the BTC “shall cease to operate upon the enactment by Congress of the [BBL].”
On the other hand, the transition authority will be created “only upon the promulgation and ratification” of the BBL.
“If the Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted and ratified, there may be a gap in the intervening period between enactment and ratification within which neither the Bangsamoro Transition Commission nor the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will exist to address the issues relevant to the Bangsamoro Basic Law and to the Bangsamoro as a whole,” Aquino’s order said.
It explained that the time from enactment to ratification may take time and that during which, the BTC is considered dissolved after enactment but the transition authority is yet to exist because under the rules at present, it would be formed once the law has been ratified.
“There is a need to further strengthen and expand the functions of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to address this foreseen gap during the intervening period between the enactment and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” EO 187 read.
“Extending the duration of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission until such time that the Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified, and vesting additional functions in such commission, can better facilitate an efficient transition upon the ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law,” it said.
When sought by The Manila Times for comment, Iqbal said EO 187 gives the BTC “additional responsibilities.”
He added that it was ordered to fill the gap between enactment and ratification, which could happen way beyond the administration of Aquino, considering the BBL’s very slow development in the legislature.
“[It will] cure the gap between enactment and ratification. This is about additional responsibility,” Iqbal said in a text message.
When asked what additional powers they were given, he replied, “We will decide when we are in that situation.”
EO 187 expands the powers of the BTC from simply crafting the BBL draft bill to the preparation and drafting of a “Code of Parliamentary Procedures for the Future Bangsamoro Parliament and a Bangsamoro Administrative Code for the consideration of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”
Section 5 of the new executive order provides, “The commission shall cease to operate upon the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in a plebiscite called for such purpose.”
Even if the BBL is passed this year, it remains uncertain as to when it could be ratified. Some sectors are already saying the ratification of the BBL may not happen within the term of Aquino.
This means that the BTC can well survive and operate even after Aquino steps down next year.