GPH, MILF peace panels meet anew to finalize draft BBL; Senate, House leaders await draft BBL  

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews /29 July) — The peace panels of the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are going to hold a “lengthy meeting” starting Aug 1 to finalize a “mutually acceptable” draft Bangsamoro Basic Law for submission to Congress, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said.

Deles told ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) after the President’s State of the Nation Address on Monday that the “lengthy meeting” would be held in the Philippines “not necessarily in Manila,” and that the intention is “ituloy-tuloy na ito hanggang matapos” (they will meet until they finish the task).

Deles’ announcement came on the same day leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives vowed in their respective opening remarks at the second regular session of the 16th Congress that they were just waiting for the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“We shall also work on the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will put an end to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao. It is our hope that Malacanang can transmit to us the proposed basic law as soon as possible,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

“All these we plan to accomplish by God’s grace and by our collective vision and determination, with heads unbowed and in continued fidelity to the Constitution and to the people to whom we owe our mandate,” he said.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte acknowledged the “clamor for a BBL.”

“Current realities challenge us to reexamine existing legislative policies on the governance of parts of Mindanao,” he said, adding that the 16th Congress is “given the signal opportunity to make history by passing a responsive Bangsamoro Basic Law that shall establish a solid framework for genuine peace and enduring stability in Mindanao within the bounds of the Constitution.”

Belmonte said that as soon as a draft measure is submitted to Congress, “we must ensure the judicious passage of this law.”

The draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was submitted to Malacanang (Office of the President) by the MILF-led 15-member joint government-MILF Bangsamoro Transition Commission on April 22. It took Malacanang two months to hand over the reviewed draft to the MILF on June 21.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, also chair of the BTC, met with President Aquino in Hiroshima on June 24, shorly before the President delivered his keynote address at The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao seminar, expressing their concerns over Malacanang’s proposed revisions to the 97-page draft.

Iqbal would later say the proposed revisions “heavily diluted” the BTC draft and would render the future Bangsamoro less autonomous than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that it seeks to replace.

The BTC passed a resolution on July 3 raising their concerns about the reviewed draft and elevated the matter to the peace panels who, despite three meetings – July 8 to 11 in Kuala Lumpur, 18-21 in Manila and 25-27 also in Manila – failed to reach what President Aquino had hoped for on June 27, a draft “both sides can fully support and endorse.”

Deles said the aim of the “lengthy meeting” starting August 1 is to finalize the draft BBL that would be submitted to Congress. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2014/07/30/gph-milf-peace-panels-meet-anew-to-finalize-draft-bbl-senate-house-leaders-await-draft-bbl/

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