Palace to submit BBL draft to Congress this week

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MALACANANG will finally submit this week the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress, a month after President Rodrigo Duterte received the new version of the proposed measure, as part of efforts to end the conflict in Mindanao.

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Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella made the announcement a few days after former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga filed her own version of the law creating the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

In a press conference, Abella said Congress may opt to consolidate the BBL, drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) bill by Arroyo.

“The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office will officially transmit the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress this week,” Abella told reporters.

“We leave it to Congress to act on the matter with dispatch, including consolidating the Palace version with House Bill 6121 filed by representative Gloria Arroyo,” he added.

Arroyo filed the BAR which, she said, “truly reflects the aspirations of our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the indigenous brethren, representation to Indigenous Peoples, women, the sultanates, and other key stakeholders.”

The expected submission of the Palace’s version of BBL to Congress comes about a month after the BTC, led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), sent its final draft of the proposed measure to Duterte on July 17.

The President had said he would certify the bill as urgent to expedite its passage.

The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014.

Duterte, the first President from Mindanao, promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to pass the BBL if elected.

The BBL was first submitted to the Aquino administration in 2014, but its passage was stalled after the killing of 44 members of an elite unit of police by rebels belonging to the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in January 2015.

During the BTC’s submission of the draft copy of the bill to the Palace on July 17, Duterte said he would ensure that “there will be no objections [to]the provisions of all that is consistent with the Constitution and the aspiration of the Moro people.”

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