Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Friday announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to name the 21 individuals who will comprise the new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) by January next year.
The BTC, which was created by Duterte’s Executive Order 8 signed on November 7, is one of the mechanisms under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
It will draft an enabling law that will establish and operationalize the envisioned Bangsamoro political entity.
The same EO expanded the current BTC membership from 15 (seven from the government and eight, including the chairman, from the MILF) to a 21-member body. The expanded BTC will now have 10 members to be appointed by the government and 11, also including the chairman will be named by the MILF.
Increasing the number of BTC members, according to Dureza, strives to bring together all key peace actors and stakeholders in the implementation of all Bangsamoro accords.
“In our initial talks with the MILF last August 2016, we have agreed to raise the members from 15 to 21 so we can have more representatives, more inclusive memberships that represent other key sectors,” the peace adviser said.
Earlier, Dureza disclosed that the Moro National Liberation Front under the leadership of Muslimin Sema is expected to join the BTC on top of other key sectors including indigenous peoples, sultanates, local government units and the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The presidential peace adviser, however, clarified that the 21-member BTC could not accommodate all sectors but the newly-formed panel is expected to convene and consult all groups within the proposed Bangsamoro areas.
EO 8 mandated the BTC to form an inclusive Bangsamoro Assembly to serve as a consultative body to discuss the proposed enabling law with various stakeholders.
Aside from assuring the inclusivity in the process, the bulk of the work of BTC focuses on writing a new proposed measure, which will replace the old Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Dureza said the timeline for the BTC to finish the draft will be by July 2017 in time for the resumption of congressional sessions and the President’s second State of the Nation Address.
The peace adviser added that the old BBL, which failed to be enacted as a law last Congress will probably be the basic document, among other pertinent legislations, of the new enabling law.
“The old BBL already underwent scrutiny but failed to be passed because of the Mamasapano incident, which put doubts on the level of trust in the talks. There were also issues on its constitutionality but there are sectors affirming that the old BBL is constitutionally-compliant],” Dureza explained.
The 2008 incident left 44 police commandos dead.
Dureza said opening up the Constitution for revisions can only be an option in the peace talks.
“It [Charter change] should happen depending on what will be discussed across the table and if there are points that seem to be not compliant with our [existing]Constitution” he added. NEIL A. ALCOBER