Finally admitting that there is no longer any sliver of hope for the proposed Bangsamoro law under the 16th Congress, Malacañang has shifted to the next best move for the peace process—preparing for its transition to the next Administration.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Sunday said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., acting on orders of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, has directed government peace negotiators to craft an action plan with all stakeholders during the “transition period.”
“Through Executive Secretary Ochoa, the President has directed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to firm up in consultation with stakeholders an action plan for promoting the peace process in the transition period during the remainder of the current administration’s term and up to the assumption of the next administration,” Coloma said in an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
Coloma’s statement followed the admission of Senate President Franklin Drilon that Congress has run out of time to pass the controversial measure, which was snagged by the Mamasapano massacre on January 25, 2015 that left 44 elite police commandos dead.
“I sent word to the President that this is going to be very difficult. This is a local bill that must originate from the House of Representatives. Now it appears that it won’t be approved in the House of Representatives because they are having difficulties with getting a quorum,” Drilon said in a recent radio interview.
Even Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other lawmakers had admitted that the BBL is dead in the 16th Congress.
The measure cannot be approved by the Senate if it is not passed by the House.
Drilon doused all hopes that the bill could be transmitted to the Senate before they adjourn.
Last week, Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), acknowledged that his group has buried all hope that the Bangsamoro Basic law or BBL will be approved under the Aquino administration.
Iqbal, however, said the MILF will continue to push the peace process with the hope that the Bangsamoro bill will eventually be passed by Congress.
Coloma said Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles has already acted on the directive issued by Ochoa.
“We will still need to do consultations including and especially with [MILF], but measures will include strengthening existing peace bodies and mechanisms to include the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, ceasefire and other joint security mechanisms, joint bodies for socioeconomic interventions,” Coloma quoted Deles as saying.
The Palace official said the OPAPP “would want to make operational recommendations of the transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission regarding the healing of the wounds of war, and moving toward sharpened interfaith and multicultural dialogue and cooperation, and very important, undertaking the necessary groundwork to ensure the success of the legal political track in the next administration.”
“We need to do all that is possible to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro beyond this administration,” Deles said in a statement released through Coloma.
Coloma said despite the debacle, the government remains committed and will aggressively pursue the peace process, during and after the Aquino administration.