House committee votes ‘yes’ on draft Bangsamoro law

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QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 20 May) – After three days of hectic deliberations, the House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law approved on Wednesday the draft measure which lawmakers hoped would be acceptable to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The committee members voted 50 in favor versus 17 against with one abstention to set up the measure for the final voting in the plenary next week.

Lawmakers also changed the name of measure from Bangsamoro Basic Law into the “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

VOTE FOR BBL. Members of the House ad hoc committee raise their hands to proceed with the voting on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on Wednesday (20 May  2015) after three days of deliberation. Members of the ad hoc committee voted 50-17 with one absention. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo
VOTE FOR BBL. Members of the House ad hoc committee raise their hands to proceed with the voting on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law after three days of deliberation. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

“I hope they (MILF) accept this. It gives them a lot of political power and resources,” said Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, ad hoc committee chair.

Rodriguez said the committee members made three amendments and 95 revisions on the two versions of the so-called Chairman and Vice Chairman’s working draft which they worked on until 10:52 p.m. Tuesday.

Among the key provisions deleted, he said, are those about the “Wali” or the titular head of the Bangsamoro region, the Ombudsman and other government agencies, and the clause establishing the coordination protocols for the movement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Bangsamoro region.

Rodriguez said the lawmakers also made about 90 revisions deleting any word or term that could be misinterpreted as “sovereign government.”

“Everything that gives an impression of sovereignty, we cut. We have to make it constitutional,” Rodriguez said.

There was no immediate reaction from the MILF.

But before the House ad hoc committee came into a vote, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews they are concerned with the amendments made on the original draft BBL.

He said they are especially concerned on the rejection of the “Wali” since the titular head will be the one who will lead in case the Bangsamoro government face a crisis.

“I am only satisfied with 50 percent of the amendments and revisions,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal is reportedly meeting with Malacañang officials tonight to see if measures can still be introduced for the plenary vote next week.

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