Senate panel to ask for briefing on Bangsa law

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THE Senate committee that will deliberate the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) wants to be briefed first by the negotiating panels that crafted the measure.

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The panel on local government wants a thorough background on the draft law from the peace panelists of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) before it holds public hearings, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, committee chairman, said on Friday.

Marcos said he scheduled the briefing for September 23.

The committee plans to hold hearings alternately in Manila and in Mindanao.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday officially submitted the draft law to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in a ceremony in Malacañang.

According to Marcos, the committee will invite the measure’s supporters and opponents.

“What is important is for everybody to be heard whether for or against. While all of us Filipinos are for peace, it is our duty in the Senate to come up with a law fulfilling that advocacy. We are to listen to all sides, not to take sides,” he said.

“It will be a thorough process and it will take a little time because it’s (BBL) complicated,” Marcos added.

He said the committee will also have to tackle the four annexes in the comprehensive agreement.

The annexes are on Normalization; Transitional Arrangements and Modalities; Power Sharing; and Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing.

Once the law is enacted and ratified through a plebiscite, a Bangsamoro political entity will be established, replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Drilon expects the Marcos committee to finish the hearing and come up with a report either by the end of this year or January 2015.

The Senate Committee on Peace, Unity and Unification headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, will also be involved in the deliberation.

The Bangsamoro draft law is just one of the key measures that Congress has to pass and submit to the President before it goes on recess on December 20.

Congress is also tackling the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2015.

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