Palace accepts BBL’s doom

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – With Malacañang accepting that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is doomed in Congress, President Aquino has directed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles to consult with concerned parties on sustaining the peace initiative beyond his term.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in his regular weekend interview over state-run radio dzRB, yesterday said Deles was told to come up with an action plan for the next administration to consider.

The directive was to “firm up in consultation with stakeholders an action plan for promoting the peace process in the transition period during the remainder of the current administration’s term and up to the assumption of the next administration.”

President Aquino has ordered that special efforts be exerted to ensure the implementation of a peace agreement with Muslim rebels even after his term ends this year, Coloma said.

Congressional leaders have said they are unlikely to pass the BBL before the President’s term ends in June.

Aquino had hoped to sign the BBL to seal a peace accord with the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But opposition from some legislators had delayed its passage despite his lobbying.

Senate President Franklin Drilon himself has conceded that there is no more time to pass the measure, considering that there will only be three session days left starting today, for Congress to approve the BBL.

For her part, Deles said the peace panel headed by Miriam Coronel-Ferrer might still conduct consultations with the MILF, which they have dealt with for the past five years of the Aquino administration.

“Measures will include strengthening existing peace bodies and mechanisms to include the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, ceasefire and other joint security mechanisms, joint bodies for socioeconomic interventions,” she said.

“We would want to operationalize the recommendations of the transitional justice and reconciliation commission regarding the healing of the wounds of war, and moving towards sharpened interfaith and multicultural dialogue and cooperation,” Deles added.

And more importantly, there has to be an “undertaking of necessary groundwork to ensure the success of the legal, political track in the next administration.”

“We need to do all that is possible to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro beyond this administration,” Coloma explained, quoting from the text message of Deles.

Last week, Malacañang acknowledged the imminent doom of the BBL following the remaining three session days of Congress, saying the path to peace is not limited to the passage of the peace measure.

Coloma issued the statement after Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. conceded that time is running out for Congress to pass the priority measure.

“We have three days left. Let’s see. I cannot be certain about that,” Drilon admitted.

The BBL needs to be ratified by Congress in order to be implemented as the governing law for the Bangsamoro region by replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that was created during the term of Aquino’s mother, the late Cory in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

The House of Representatives, for its part, has ended the period of debates and started the period of amendments.

But the long speeches of lawmakers against the measure have taken much time that the prospects of its passage in the chamber next week – where Congress will adjourn for the election campaign – are near impossible.

Even if it breezes through the House, it still has to hurdle the Senate, which has prepared a different, more constitutional version renamed the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

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