“The turnover of the output of the BTC will happen at 5:30 in the afternoon of July 17 here at the Palace,” Dureza said in a press briefing. PPD/Simon Celi, File

Duterte to receive new BBL on July 17
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is expected to be turned over to President Duterte on July 17, presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said yesterday.

“The turnover of the output of the BTC will happen at 5:30 in the afternoon of July 17 here at the Palace,” Dureza said in a press briefing.

“The BTC will turn over to the President the copy of their work that had been done over the past few months,” he added.

The BTC had been tasked to draft the new Bangsamoro enabling law to support the implementation process of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 during the Aquino administration.

Last February, Duterte named 21 members to the BTC to come up with an all-inclusive Bangsamoro law that will address the clamor for political autonomy for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao. 

Dureza promised that the current BTC is careful about learning from the lessons of the past where conflict between leaders of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) affected the immediate passage of the BBL. The MILF is a breakaway group of former MNLF members.

“Let’s not preempt Congress, the final arbiter on what could be the configuration of the new law, if at all it will be passed to replace the BBL in the past, will all depend on what Congress will do with it,” he said.

“But we are confident that the BTC that crafted the new one must have taken into account the failures of the past, learning from past lessons,” he added.

The move to speed up the new BBL is parallel to efforts of Duterte’s allies to work on the proposed shift to federalism, the information drive for which has been started at the barangay level.

According to Dureza, the administration has reached out to MNLF chairman Nur Misuari to determine his group’s recommendation to amend the law that covers the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“In our work with the MNLF of chairman Nur Misuari, you know already that he has not converged with us in the work on the BBL, except one sector of the MNLF headed by Yusoph Jikiri,” Dureza said.

“We have also opened up a separate track with chairman Misuari. Hopefully, they will be able to come up with their own recommendations on what could be their amendment to the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under Republic Act 9054,” he added.

He also explained that the BBL would be for the MILF while the amendments on the ARMM law would be solely covered by the MNLF leadership since Misuari and his group already signed the 1996 Peace Agreement with the government during the Ramos administration.

Dureza explained that the convergence of the MNLF track with the MILF track “hopefully will happen in Congress.” 

“Congress will have to look at both and then find out how they can harmonize, how they can converge both proposals. So we have engaged them. Hopefully, they will be able to come up with their own recommendations,” he said.

“Again, Congress cannot pass a law only for the MILF and another separate law for the MNLF. There’s only one Bangsamoro territory,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is leaving it up to the President whether to certify the BBL as urgent.

Dureza said the OPAPP will recommend that the BBL be certified as an urgent bill.

“But as you know very well, the President makes the final call,” he added. – With Edith Regalado

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