CONTRARY to reports that the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that was submitted to Malacañang on Monday is already ripe for submission to Congress, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the measure still has to be “modified.”
Describing the document as a “working draft,” the Palace official explained that it still has to pass the scrutiny of government lawyers.
“Only this morning, I sent a text message from the Office of the Executive Secretary regarding the submission yesterday [Monday] of a working draft. By definition, a draft is something that can be supplemented and that can be modified until it is finalized,” Coloma said.
The official was reacting to claims that the submitted draft was lacking in details in terms of policing structure and the Bangsamoro waters. He said though that he was not aware of the missing details but that he would verify it with the Office of the President.
“Even if we knew it, what is most material and what is most important, I believe, is that the legal team will be able to do everything that is necessary to be able to submit the draft bill to the President for his own review and approval,” Coloma pointed out.
Nevertheless, he said he is confident that the Palace review will be done the soonest so that the final version of the bill can be submitted for Congress’ approval.
“The commitment of both panels is to come up with a draft bill that the President will review and certify as urgent to Congress. So this is a joint effort and both sides are doing what is necessary with the sense of urgency to be able to complete the task at hand within the indicative timetable,” Coloma added.
He assured that the government and MILF panels have exercised “due diligence, industry and determination” in order to complete the agreement.
“I think we can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that there is reason to be optimistic that the timetable can be met,” Coloma said.
According to him, the Palace legal team has been monitoring developments in the talks since Day 1 and that the government panel headed by Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer consulted regularly with the same Palace lawyers now reviewing the draft.
“We can be assured that the people that are doing the reviewing are quite familiar with the agreement, and the Bangsamoro Transitory Commission would have referred extensively to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro [CAB] itself,” Coloma said.
Government lawyers, he added, have studied each annex that had been approved to find out how they can come into play in the draft bill. There are four annexes comprising the CAB that was signed on March 27.
“Even when we were in the earlier stage of drafting the Comprehensive Agreement, there was already close coordination on both sides, and the people that are now tasked to review it are quite familiar with the provisions of the agreement, and we would expect them to be familiar with the provisions of the proposed law, which are anyway based on the agreement itself,” Coloma said.
On Monday, the BTC headed by Mohaqer Iqbal submitted the draft measure to the Office of the President and it was Undersecretary Mike Musngi who officially received it.
Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the measure will be reviewed by the Palace legal team composed of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Benjamin Caguioa, “as well as other legal minds in the executive branch of government.”
She added that the Office of the Solicitor General will also be “lending their help” on the matter.