DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 January) – For the second time after December 8, President Benigno S. Aquino III will meet anew with members of the House of Representatives next week to push for the passage of the law that would pave the way for the creation of a new political entity called the Bangsamoro.
Aquino told reporters covering the inauguration of the 300-megawatt coal-fired Therma South Project in Binugao, Toril in Davao City on Friday that he is still optimistic that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed under his term, even as the measure that seeks to replace Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with Bangsamoro has been described as technically dead.
Aquino met with members of the House on December 8 in Malacanang to ask them to “seize the historic opportunity…” of passing the BBL.
According to Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the President told House members that day that passing the BBL “has become more imperative in view of the increased threats posed by global terrorism and radicalization” and that he urged them to rise to the challenge of “changing ttthe narrative” of the Bangsamoro,” referring to the cycle of violence and poverty that has stalled peace and progress in Mindanao.
The BBL was drafted by the 15-member joint government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and submitted to Congress in ceremonial rites held in Malacanang on September 10, 2014.
This draft became House Bill 4994 and Senate Bill 2408 but after the committee hearings, the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and the Senate Committee on Local government headed by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. filed their respective substitute bills – HB 5811 and SB 2894, both titled Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).
HB 5811 and SB 2894, however, have been criticized as rendering the supposedly “new autonomous political entity” called the Bangsamoro “less than the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) that it seeks to replace.
In a media forum in July last year at the MILF camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said they will continue to demand for the implementation of the October 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and the March 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) with or without the BBL.
Dec. 16 target
Coloma said that when the President met with President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, he was asked about how the Philippine government has succeeded in achieving an agreement with the Bangsamoro. Coloma said the President pointed out that the BBL provides a template for peace building that may be considered by the international community.
The President’s December 8 meeting came eight days before December 16, the target set by the House and Senate leadership for the passage of the law.
The House managed to terminate its period of interpellation just before Congress adjourned for the holidays on December 16 and will proceed to the period of amendments when sessions resume on January 19.
The Senate has yet to terminate its period of interpellation, as Senator Juan Ponce Enrile had manifested at the end of the first day of his interpellation in November that he was not done yet.
There are only eight session days between January 19 and February 5, when Congress adjourns again for the election campaign.
The Senate is reopening its probe on the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano Tragedy on January 25, a move that the President said will likely be used by the administration’s political enemies.
The Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police launched an operation that Sunday dawn to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin hir aka Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Marwan was killed and so were 66 others — 44 from the SAF, 17 from the MILF and five civilians.
“Parang nakita nila na ito ang pinaka-mabigat na dagok sa ating pamamahala. Sinusubakan nilang samantalahin ang pagkakataon. Bilang pangulo, ama ng bayan, hindi pwedeng magpadala sa emosyon” (They see this as the biggest blow to may administration. They are trying to take advantage of the situation. As President and father of the nation, we should not let emotions rule ), Aquino told reporters last Friday.
But the President also said he welcomes the reopening of the probe because “pagkakataon ito para makumpleto ang whole picture yung nangyari sa Mamasapano at mailagay sa tama ang record,” he said. (MindaNews)