CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 09 April) — The May 18 deadline to submit the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to the Office of the President came from President Rodrigo Duterte himself, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said.
“Siya ang nag set noon na sana ma-submit sa May 18,” Murad told MindaNews Friday afternoon. He said the date was brought up by the President during their talk at the launch of the 21-member MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) on February 24 in Davao City.
He said the President was “emphasizing on the immediate na formulation of the new BBL para maipasa na sa Congress. Palaging sinasabi nya na dalian para matapos na ito” (He repeatedly said hurry up so this can be finished immediately).
“Actually, gusto nga niya, nag set nga siya ng parang unilateral na timeline na May 18 kailangan ma-submit sa kanya yung bagong BBL in time para mai-submit sa Congress in July … consistent pa rin ang kanyang sinasabi na paunahain natin itong Bangsamoro” (that we push for the Bangsamoro first), Murad said.
The President will deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24 where he is expected to certify as urgent the passage of the Bangsmaoro law.
Duterte on March 11 surprised those keenly monitoring the Bangsamoro peace process, when, addressing the MILF during the inauguration of the People’s Television (PTV) Cordillera Hub in Baguio City, he said, “you’re about to complete the Bangsamoro Transition draft (referring to the BBL). I will study it before we submit it to Congress and pray that it would sail on still waters.”
The BTC, however, was not “about to complete” the draft BBL by then as its members were named only on February 10, three months after the Exedutive Order reconstituting the BTC was signed. It was officially launched in the presence of President Duterte on February 24 at the Waterfront Hotel’s Garden Paviliion in Davao City, and held its first session on Marh 6 and 7 to discuss internal rules and the budget.
In its April 3 to 5 session, the BTC approved its internal rules, adopted as “working document” the draft BBL submitted by the previous BTC to Congress on September 10, 2014, and set up the six committees to begin crafting the draft BBL.
As of April 9, it was still awaiting notice from the Departemtn of Budget and Management for the release of its budget. Commissioners in the meantime have been shouldering the expenes for transportation to and from Cotabao City as well as the payment of rhti
The BTC — composed of 11 members nominated by the MILF and 10 by the government (GPH) — will begin committee hearings on April 10 to 12 and will have its plenary session on April 17 to 19.
The April 3 to 5 session also moved to an earlier target the supposed May 18 deadline. The 21-member BTC is now eyeing a May 15 deadline as Commissioner Hussin Amin manifested it was the date mentioned by Irene Santiago, chair of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel, in a televised interview.
May 15 is only 36 days from April 9.
Murad acknowledged that meeting the May 18 or May 15 target date is “very challengeing.”
He noted that it took time for the internal rules to be adopted and the committees set up so “with the pace now of the BTC, talagang very challenging, mahirapan kaya lang (difficult but) it’s not impossible.”
He said he hopes the BTC commissioners “can develop strong partnership para magkaroon ng common objective para matapos kaagad.”
He reiterated that the draft BBL should comply with the Framework Agereeent on the Bangsamoro that the GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on March 27, 2014.
The BBL’s passage will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous politcial entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the peace implementing panels of the GPH and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have met, informally, four times but have yet to hold its first formal meeting.
GPH peace implementing panel chair Nabil Tan told MindaNews there will be no formal launch like the BTC but they will make a formal call on the President within the first half of April.
MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari’s temporary liberty is until April 27.
Judge Ma. Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of the Pasig Regional Trial Court in Pasig City on October 27 last year granted the “motion to suspend proceedings and enforcement of warrants of arrest against Misuari” for a period of six months from October 27, to allow Misuari “to attend peace talk sessions with the government.”
April 27 is fast approaching but Parcasio is confident Misuari’s temporary liberty will be extended. “Well, we could always file a motion for extension … because his leave is tied to the peace process. It’s tied to the fact that he’s given time to travel, to meet different people, to consult MNLF members, confer with government in connection with the peace process, so we are confident that hopefully the court will grant the extension,” Parcasio told MindaNews last month. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)