The government peace panel has not lost hope that Congress will pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before the start of the election campaign.
Government peace panel chief Miriam Coronel-Ferrer appealed to lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the measure, noting that the approval of the bill will pave the way for the implementation of the other components of the peace agreement signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Although prolonged and tediously delayed, we have managed to see the respective committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives (HoR) close their committee hearings, produce their amended bills, and move on to the period of interpellation, with the HoR closing this period by the time Congress ended its last session day for 2015 on December 16,” Ferrer said.
“We continue to believe that both Houses can and will pass the law before they close session in February 2016,” she added.
Congress is expected to resume its sessions on January 19.
Ferrer noted that although the Bangsamoro bill has been languishing for more than a year in Congress, neither the government nor the MILF has reneged on their commitments to each other.
“I acknowledge the wisdom and maturity of the MILF leaders for staying on the peace track despite the disappointments and challenges. Other less determined peace partners would have been less discerning, and more impulsively be shouting out war chants in view of the delays in our road map. We pray the leadership will be able to keep in line its mass members,” Ferrer said.
“We continue to collaborate in strengthening our joint mechanisms, and building mutual trust and confidence among and between our respective organizations,” she added.
Should there be a failure to implement all aspects of the peace process under the Aquino administration, Ferrer said the aim would be to “strengthen” the agreement forged by the two parties well into the next administration.
Nevertheless, the chief of government peace panel said putting off the passage of the Bangsamoro bill would be akin to starting from scratch since the measure, now called the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, would have to be refiled and discussed again at the committee level before being taken up in the plenary.
“We find strength in the unflinching efforts of civil society organizations, leading personalities and groups in the Christian churches, the academe, the women and peace advocates, and the diplomatic community, our supportive legislators especially the leaders of both Houses, the Cabinet and various government agencies, and certainly the President, to promote understanding of the cause, and taking action to bring forth the BBL,” Ferrer said.
“Altogether, we shall continue to carry on in order to get to our destination sooner than later,” she added.