Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) met yesterday with the House of Representatives ad hoc committee to discuss the possibility of restoring the more than 28 provisions in the original draft deleted prior to the bill’s submission to the plenary for debates.
According to BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal, they raised their concerns on the current draft being deliberated in the House of Representatives during the meeting. “We…noted, more or less, the issues that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission has brought up… [so] a good Bangsamoro Basic Law will emerge,” he said.
Last July 29, the BTC wrote House Speaker and Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. a letter reiterating its position that Congress should pass the BBL “in its original form.” Attached to the letter is a copy of BTC Resolution 005 series of 2015 outlining the 28 provisions deleted or revised by the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“This is a continuing process, a continuing dialogue; and hopefully by the end of the day, we would be able to settle all issues that would require further discussion, that would require further action on the part of the parties especially the Congress of the Philippines,” added Iqbal.
Iqbal, the chief peace negotiator for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, shared that their discussions with the House leaders were “very frank” and “straight to the point.”
“What is important with this discussion is that we have brought the discussion in a most different manner so that all parties, these are the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL led by the Hon. Cong. Rufus Rodriguez, (have an) understanding that never before was discussed by the parties,” he continued.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, confirmed that the Ad Hoc Committee and the BTC have begun discussing the 28 deleted provisions. “To be truthful, open and frank, in fact, we’ve started to discuss some of the 28 points. We continue with our dialogue.”
The solon from Cagayan de Oro City also said that they have asked the BTC, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and the Government of the Philippines peace negotiating panel in talks with the MILF (GPH Panel) to submit their respective position papers with regard the deleted provisions.
“We’d expect the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to come out with that because the 28 points were bullet points and so, we would wish that they would be coming out with the reasons and the explanations [of] these points,” Rodriguez said.
“We likewise ask Secretary Deles of OPAPP and Chair Ferrer to likewise give their inputs and position on the 28 points and we hope to meet again because we are all partners for peace,” the ad hoc committee chair continued.
When asked on whether the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), the BBL version pending before the plenary, would be returned to the committee for revisions, Rodriguez clarified that this is not the case.
“It will be with the amendments. There might be some consensus that might be considered. After we finish the period of interpellations, we go to the period of amendments on substitute bill 5811,” he added.
The OPAPP secretary, who was also at the meeting together with GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferer and peace panel member Senen Bacani, thanked Rodriguez and all members of the House for working continuously on the legislative aspect of the Bangsamoro peace process. “We are grateful to the House leadership specially the leadership of the Ad Hoc Committee…”
“The meeting resulted in an agreement of continuing to work together to be able to address the issues. All the parties remain even more hopeful and confident that with this continuing exchange, the House of Representatives and eventually the entire Congress will be able to pass a meaningful BBL that will address and resolve the long standing armed conflict in Southern Philippines,” added Deles.
When asked what would happen after the meeting, Deles said that “there was consensus that all of the issues can be discussed; the perspectives can be further clarified; I think all parties were hopeful that there can be a consensus on how this will primarily be resolved and be brought into the final product of the BBL.”