THE proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) pending at the Senate and the House of Representatives is “comatose” and the 16th Congress may no longer be able to revive it, senators said on Wednesday.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has stopped the measure in its tracks.
Marcos added that even if the Senate was able to come up with its version of the proposal, it would be difficult to persuade lawmakers to support it.
“The BBL is in a coma, the hearings have been suspended, the legislative process has been stopped because of the Mamasapano clash. The general sentiment now out of sympathy for our fallen police officers is that why do have to pursue it (BBL) after seeing what the other party had done,” the senator said referring to the MILF.
He noted that congressmen also believe that it would be difficult for the House to pass its own version of the bill because there would not be enough lawmakers to support it.
“Had the House subjected the BBL for voting today, the proposal would have encountered a vote of no-support from legislators,” Marcos said, adding that legislators from both chambers feel that there are still so many questions that remain unanswered.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. recently admitted that he can no longer guarantee the passage of the measure because many lawmakers withdrew their support for the bill after the brutal slaying of the 44 police commandos who were in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, to capture terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman.
Belmonte said the proposed law that would pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro entity is dying in the House of Representatives because lawmakers have lost interest in passing the measure.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said Congress may no longer have the time to work on the proposed BBL and have it approved before it adjourns in 2016.
He challenged the MILF to show sincerity in order to win back the trust of the public and lawmakers that was lost because of the “execution” of the SAF commandos.
“How can we still trust them after seeing how they killed our SAF officers… for me massacre is not the proper term, it is execution,” Ejercito said.
Marcos said the BBL in its present form contains glaring “weaknesses,” noting that the measure is not the “magic pill” that will resolve the peace and order problem in Mindanao.
The lawmaker cited among others lack of good faith on the part of the MILF leadership, absence of mechanisms that expedite coordination between the government and the rebel group, issues on the chain of command and questions on its constitutionality as reason why the BBL is “weak.”
“All of these things point to the glaring weakness in that whole process. The way forward is to take a change of perspective and not think only BBL. People had counted BBL as the solution (to the Mindanao problem), the be-all and end-all,” he said.
Malacanang wanted Congress to pas the BBL by March to give way to the holding of a plebiscite and eventually the election of local officials of the new Bangsamoro government.