Legislators move beyond partisan politics, vow for swift passage of Bangsamoro Law PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 13 September 2014 11:53

As President Benigno S. Aquino III led the submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to leaders of Congress, solons in the majority and minority blocs expressed the importance of unity and moving beyond partisan politics for Congress to take on its monumental role to pass a law that is key for achieving peace in southern Philippines.

Senators Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Nancy Binay, and Vicente Sotto III expressed their commitment to the enactment of the draft BBL, asserting confidence that the process will be spared from unnecessary distractions and delays rooted in politics.

“This is an opportunity for us to find a true and lasting peace and nobody will want to squander such an opportunity,” said Marcos in an interview with the press following the ceremonial handover of the draft BBL to Congress staged in Malacañang.

Binay, for her part, acknowledged the draft measure as “a significant step towards our pursuit of lasting peace in Mindanao.”

Sotto commented that the Bangsamoro proposal is “very promising” and will be key to achieving sustainable development in Mindanao once the island’s issues are settled.

The draft BBL was officially turned over by President Benigno S. Aquino III to Congress in a simple ceremony staged in Malacañan Palace. Once passed into law and ratified through a plebiscite, it will install and operationalize a parliamentary form of government that will replace what is currently the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Going beyond political differences

Marcos, who heads the Senate Committee on Local Government, acknowledged that political differences will create inevitable bumps along the way, in light of existing regional, tribal politics in the south. However, he insisted that the success of the Bangsamoro bill will be hinged in a bipartisan process that will take into account all possible perspectives and positions.

“The Bangsamoro law will seek to acknowledge the differences in cultures, religions, and laws [in the region],” Marcos clarified.

“[Our work is to find out] how to incorporate those differences into the larger system of government of the Republic of the Philippines.”

To this end, Marcos said that he will ensure that hearings on the proposed basic law will be held in Manila and in the ARMM alike.

“It would not be right if the Bangsamoro law will be reviewed in light of concerns and opinions voiced out in Manila alone,” he said.

“My approach to this process is simple: We will allow everyone who wants to say something or has an opinion that is valid and reasonable a venue to make their case.”

Noting the tight timeline left for legislators to pass the Bangsamoro bill into law, Marcos pointed out that the process will be urgent, yet deliberate.

“We must take full advantage of this chance. We must get this right, so we will examine every aspect of it to make sure that, in the end, it will contribute to a true and lasting peace that will benefit our entire country.”

Historic opportunity for peace

Senate President Franklin Drilon also emphasized the historic role and opportunity to help achieve peace in southern Philippines through the passage of the BBL.

“To all of us, we should not let this historic opportunity to pass without achieving the purpose of peace. This may not come again if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity. We will respect the Philippine Constitution (in passing the BBL), but let us also be conscious of the aspirations of our people in Mindanao.”

As a manifestation of the unity of lawmakers for peace, Drilon said that the minority in the Senate will co-sponsor the BBL. Same with Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had earlier given his support for the swift passage of the BBL as a top priority measure in this administration.

Present during the ceremony were members of the Senate, House of Representatives; Cabinet; Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Mohagher Iqbal and commissioners; Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles; GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and peace panel member Yasmin Busran-Lao.

Bangsamoro law, a triumph for all Filipinos

Aquino referred to the transmittal of the draft BBL as a triumph for all Filipinos. He said that through the proposed BBL, “we have taken yet another step towards a more peaceful and more progressive Mindanao.”

“Now that we have a proposed bill, I fully believe that it is in accordance with our Constitution and with the principles of our framework agreement, and that it reflects our shared efforts towards growth that leaves no one behind,” Aquino said.

Aquino assured that whether Moros, Lumads, or Christians, “the BBL was crafted to be fair, just, and acceptable to all.”

Deles in a statement said that the transmittal of the BBL to Congress is a turning point in our national quest for peace. She said she “expects and look forward to vigorous public discussions of the provisions of the BBL.”

Coronel-Ferrer in her statement said “We trust that our esteemed lawmakers, cognizant of the historic import of this process, would view the submitted draft with open hearts and minds, and would take on the monumental responsibility of bringing forth the Bangsamoro with seriousness of purpose and urgency.”

Iqbal, for his part, said that he is “happy with the results” of the engagements between the BTC and the Office of the President to arrive at a mutually acceptable draft BBL. He said that “there is no other option for the MILF and for government but to move forward” in the peace process.