PHILIPPINE SENATE (MindaNews / 4 March) – In the Senate last Tuesday (March 3), many of the Senators stood but not one Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) lobby from the movements.
Acceptability in the Senate, which is a political institution, is something I got from the conversation with Sen. Allan Cayetano’s team who felt the avalanche of anger from Marawi’s rally against him for his statements in hearings against the MILF and against peace negotiators.
Thanking Senators Bam Aquino, Koko Pimentel and Teofisto Guingona Jr. for the Resolution on declaring March 6 a National Day for Healing, acknowledging as well the IDPs, displaced that are now traumatizing our communities anew.
Even with talking to the legal team of Senator Pia Cayetano, their concern is for answers and explanations even if the BBL is a separate issue from Mamasapano whose Board of Inquiry is to find out the truth of the incident.
Would a Muslim be imposed a different penalty than a Christian in a Bangsamoro?
Sen. Chiz Escudero’s legal team asks what if death penalty were imposed, would it be final and executory, no longer subject to the Supreme Court?
With Sen. Allan Cayetano’s chief of staff Sarah Arriola (former Ateneo Human Rights Center lead), she reflects on the need for more lobby and engagement from the BBL supporters and Bangsamoro themselves, aside from the MILF. Indeed the majority voices and raw emotions of families of the PNP SAF matter (because they are affected) as well as the BM constituents.
So where to draw the line on separating the BBL from Mamasapano? The lines are blurred for now (that even high Senate executives have to listen to the mainstream sentiment) and the fear of local advocates that the BBL is delayed and hijacked by political games after June.
Senator Bong Marcos, chair of the hearings, assures BBL hearings will continue though he will have to conduct his consultations in Jolo and another area .
Bottomline still: Senators can be convinced yet on the need for BBL, but there needs to be more discussions with them .
[Samira A. Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., is former assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc.; former director, Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc. See her blog at http://samiragutoc.webs.com.]