IF Congress fails to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, “Plan B” should be to pursue peace efforts in Muslim Mindanao, according to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“We will see what we can do within our remaining session days but even if the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) fails to pass, I am confident that the next Administration will support efforts to find lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao because it is crucial for the development and progress of Mindanao and the entire country,” the senator said on Monday.
“No matter how long the journey to peace will take, we will get there if all parties continue to show goodwill and sincerity,” he added.
Marcos issued the statement amid the concerns expressed by the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) on delay in approval of the proposed Bangsamoro law and possibility that the final version may not be compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The TPMT was jointly set up by the government and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) to monitor implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the two parties signed on October 15, 2012.
Marcos pointed out that if the proposed law fails to pass under the Aquino Administration, the time, effort and resources spent on it will not be wasted since the next Congress can use records of deliberations to facilitate passage of the bill.
While the Bangsamoro law must adhere to the intent of the CAB, it is more important that the final version comply with the Constitution.
Marcos took exception to the impression of TPMT Chairman Alistair MacDonald that there seems to be no significant progress in the Senate deliberation on the bill.
“We have been conducting exhaustive interpellations on the BLBAR and every issue clarified, every question answered brings us a step closer to crafting a final version that is not only constitutional but also inclusive and would produce the desired result,” the senator said.
“It is better to discuss all the concerns now, find out possible problems that may arise and fine-tune the proposed law rather than rush its passage only to scratch our heads later and say, ‘Why haven’t we thought of that?’”
No game plan
Two members of the House of Representatives, however, said the chamber has no game plan in passing the measure with nine session days left before it adjourns for the 2016 presidential elections.
House Deputy Majority Leader Bolet Banal of Quezon City and House Deputy Minority Leader Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1-BAP party-list said there is no more time to tackle the measure.
“We share their [TPMT] concerns and the limited timeline has become more limited. I have yet to hear the strategy of the authors and proponents on how to fast track and consolidate the amendments,” Banal said in a text message.
Congress will resume session on January 18 but it will only be in session until February 3.
It conducts plenary sessions only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“When Congress resumes, it will have only nine session days. The possibility is there but the passage is quite remote given the confused position of the administration on the issue. They have to decide first if its BBL or BLBAR,” Bello pointed out.
“The BLBAR does not seem attractive to the MILF. Then [we have]the problem of quorum. Malacañang may have to resort to the carrot-and- stick approach,” he said.
But for Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano 3rd, the government and MILF panels should be blamed.
“When it [draft Bangsamoro law]came to Congress, they said it is up to Congress. Now that we have amended it, they are insisting that we go by the original draft,” Albano said in a separate text message.
“We cannot be pressured by anyone. We will do our legislative function based on the Constitution,” the congressman, a member of the Commission on Appointments, added.