DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 February) – The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) wants civil society organizations to “fast-track” their consultations so the Commission can submit the draft to Congress by March 31.
BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal late last year announced they were targeting April 2014 for submission of the draft BBL to Congress. But in their courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacanang on January 30, Iqbal said they accepted the challenge to submit the draft sooner, on March 31.
Iqbal is also peace panel chair and information chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
According to Malacanang’s website, the President urged the BTC to “draw up soonest the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law so it can be ratified and implemented in time for the 2016 elections.”
Last year, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, the President urged Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law “before the end of 2014” so that “we will have ample time to prepare for the election of a new Bangsamoro government come 2016.”
Iqbal told the Mindanao CSO (Civil Society Organizations) Leaders Peace Summit at the Royal Mandaya Hotel on Tuesday afternoon that BTC is going to organize a special committee that will process the feedbacks and recommendations of the consultations for consideration by the 15-member Commission during the drafting of the bill.
“If there is a need for it, we will continue to engage and try to inform you about our recommendations to your recommendations,” he said.
Whether or not the BTC submits on March 31 or April, Congress will still be on recess by then. It has sessions from January 20 to March 14 and will take a break from March 15 to May 4, resume on May 5 and will go on sine die adjournment from June 14 to July 27. The President will deliver his SONA on July 28.
On October 18 last year, the BTC and the Mindanao Civil Society Organization Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) signed a memorandum of agreement on the conduct of “public engagements and consultations from the drafting of the Basic Law up to its enactment.”
This is aside from the consultations conducted by the government and MILF peace panels and other groups helping in the peace process.
The BTC partnership with MCSOPP, a platform comprising at least 120 groups and networks, aims to “promote transparency, inclusiveness and active participation of the local stakeholders” to generate “massive public support and ownership” of the BBL.
The MOA provides that at least 128 consultations will be conducted at the district level in the proposed core areas of the Bangsamoro and in every municipality included in the target expanded areas, with the consultation design approved by both the BTC and the MCSOPP.
On Thursday, the MCSOPP submitted initial results from the Bawgbug Consulting Team in Sulu, Women Engaged in Action on 1325, Arumanen Manuvu Tribe, Lanao Peace Partnership, North Cotabato Consulting Team, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Mindanao Peoples Caucus/Bantay Ceasefire and SUCCEED (Sustainable Cooperation for Equitable Enterprise Development, Inc.).
The GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012 the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 23-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by June 30, 2016, the end of the Aquino administration.
Four annexes to the FAB are needed to complete the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB): power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization, and transitional arrangements and modalities.
Although the peace panels were not able to complete the annexes by end of December 2012, as agreed upon in the FAB, they signed the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities in February; wealth-sharing and revenue generation in July; power-sharing in December and the Annex on Normalization and Addendum on Bagnsamoro waters, on January 25.
The peace panels are finalizing the text of the CAB which will be set for signing “in February or March,” Iqbal and government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer had earlier said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)