THE Bangsamoro Basic Law may be caught in a legislative quagmire and fail to see passage if the measure is not passed soon, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said on Wednesday.
The President said he fears that a late submission of the measure’s draft to Congress might cause delays in the progress of the peace talks itself so that he prodded the members of the Transition Commission to immediately craft the bill.
“I met with [members of the]Transition Commission. I reminded them that the earlier we come out with the proposed law, the bigger our chance of having it passed in time,” Aquino said.
The Commission is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will be the legal basis of the establishment of the new political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The proposed law will lay down the structure of government of the Bangsamoro, the relationship of the Bangsamoro with the central government, the rights of the residents, and other important matters in the governance of the Bangsamoro. The details will include the issues that were agreed upon in the four annexes that were signed by government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace negotiators.
The last annex, on normalization, was signed only in January.
According to the President, the members of the Commission had informed him that the deadline for the submission of the draft law would be May but he rejected it.
“Their first deadline was May. I asked them it shouldn’t be May because there will only be one month left for Congress to tackle it. Then Congress would adjourn, then SONA [State of the Nation Address] and when they get back, it will be budget [season],” Aquino explained.
“It might be left pending. So it would stay there,” he stressed.
The Transition Commission is composed of 15 members who have been entrusted with the responsibility of writing the measure that will be submitted to Congress.
Among their responsibilities are the tasks of proposing amendments to the Philippine Constitution, “if needed,” and the coordination of development programs and projects in the Bangsamoro.
But the panel under Mohaqer Iqbal is working double-time to complete a draft law.
“The crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be completed and it will be submitted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd hopefully this coming April, and we hope also that he would certify it as an urgent bill if it reached the Congress,” Iqbal vowed in an earlier interview.
Joel M. Sy Egco