BY JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER
A battery of seasoned government lawyers will review the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to make the measure withstand legal challenges once it is submitted for congressional approval and in case it is questioned before the Supreme Court (SC).
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) headed by Mohaqer Iqbal was expected to submit the draft measure to the Office of the President (OP) by 5 p.m. on Monday, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
Valte said BTC officials have an appointment with OP Undersecretary Mike Musngi, who will officially receive the draft.
Once in the hand of Malacanang lawyers, Valte said the measure will be subjected to a thorough review to look for any infirmities.
“So after [an]internal process checks in the BTC, it would undergo a review on the Office of the President, mainly by the Office of Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs [DESLA] Michael Aguinaldo,” the Palace official explained.
Part of the team, Valte further explained, would be Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Secretary Benjamin Caguioa, “as well as other legal minds in the executive branch of government.”
“So undergoing these internal processes and reviews would ensure that more or less it would have solid legal footing, if and when it is challenged in the Supreme Court,” the Palace official emphasized.
“I understand also that the Office of the Solicitor General will be lending their help on this matter,” Valte added.
The official expressed confidence that with the preparations being done to see the smooth sailing of the measure, it will stand scrutiny.
She said that some groups have already made known their intention to challenge the measure once passed but assured that both government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front panels were aware of the risks.
“Both panels in their negotiations have already had that in mind. Knowing that anything that will come out of their negotiations will be challenged. They have made sure that they have the proper legal guidance while it was being crafted and that it will stand scrutiny,” Valte stressed further.
She said she would not speculate on the nature of the expected legal challenges because all issues will be addressed only as they come.
“That would depend on the challenge. Remember that when we’re asked to respond to constitutional challenge, the response is based on the allegations set out in the petition… I can’t project at this time what the challenges would be or what specific provisions of law would be called into play,” Valte explained.
The BTC was supposed to submit the draft bill last month following the singing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro last March 27. However, the body asked for more time to fine-tune the measure.