THE peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday lauded the optimism of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as they noted that there is still time to approve the bill.
“I am confident that the Senate would do its best to pass the measure within the remaining session days of Congress after considering all the amendments introduced by the senators,” Marcos said in a letter addressed to Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, chairpersons of the government and MILF peace panels, respectively. The letter dated December 1, 2015 was recently received by the peace panels.
On its last session day on December 16, the House of Representatives concluded the period of interpellation on the proposed Bangsamoro law. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the ad hoc committee on the BBL, vowed to pass the bill when Congress resumes session in January. The Senate, on the other hand, failed to deliberate on the Bangsamoro measure on its last week of session this December.
Marcos’ letter was in response to the open letter of the peace panels sent to Congress on November 26, 2015.
“Time is short, but there is still time. We ask our legislators to work for the immediate passage of the draft law on the Bangsamoro. Time is of the essence, and opportunity knocks only once,” the GPH and MILF peace panels said in an open letter.
“We are at the cusp of closing a major armed conflict that has divided our people for decades. But we cannot reach our destination without the goodwill and show of statesmanship from our leaders in the august halls of Congress, in whose hands the legislative power lies,” they added.
In the joint letter, the two peace negotiators underscored the importance of passing the BBL to continue the decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons, generate positive effects on the succeeding administration and arrest the spread of extremism.
“We ask you, our legislators, to open your hearts and to give our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters this one good chance to enjoy the right to peace, and partake of meaningful reforms and development,” they said.
Marcos’ positive statement on the passage of the Bangsamoro bill came weeks after he was quoted in news reports as saying that the measure is dead because Congress has run out of time to pass it.