BTC chair says draft BBL “almost complete”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 June) — The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is “almost complete” and will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for review by mid-June,  BTC chair Ghazali Jaafar said at the “Iftar for Peace” here on Saturday.

Launched in late February, the BTC is tasked to draft the BBL in accordance with the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The ARMM comprises the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Ghadzali Jaafar reiterates that a political problem requires a political solution as he pushed for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) whose signing on March 27, 2014, was commemorated by the government and MILF panels on March 29, 2017 in Davao City. MINDANEWS PHOTO

During the celebration of the 3rd anniversary of the CAB in March 2017, Irene Santiago, chair of the GPH peace implementing panel, said the BTC was expected to submit the draft BBL to the President by May 18.

President Duterte is expected to certify the draft bill as urgent when he delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

Jaafar, concurrent first vice chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said it will  be up to the President when the draft BBL will be forwarded to Congress.

Jaafar said he believes the draft BBL will be passed in Congress because there are now more brains working on the draft, with lawyer commissioners to ensure it passes questions on constitutionality.

He said the the 21-member BTC, composed of 11 members from the MILF and 10 from the GPH BTC adopted the old draft BBL as a “working document” and enhanced to make it more reflective of the interests of both the Bangsamoro and non-Bangsamoro communities.

“The draft BBL enshrines the legitimate aspirations and interests of the people of the Bangsamoro – be they Muslim Bangsamoros, Christian settler communities as well as Moro and non-Moro Indigenous Peoples,” he said.

“The Bangsamoros’ aspiration to establish a government that is genuinely asymmetric in relationship with the central government, and consistent with their belief and historical experience, is reflected so well in several articles that clearly establish its powers over political and fiscal matters, including the control over the exploration, development and utilization of resources.”

“The Preamble and Articles 1 up to 8 essentially vest the Bangsamoro government with powers that make it far more autonomous than the present ARMM,” he said.

He explained Articles 12 to 13 will make the Bangsamoro government less dependent on the central government in the field of revenue generation and control over the use and disposition of the natural resources.

He said the new BBL’s Article 4 and Article 9 will ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of the Christian settler communities, the non-Moro indigenous peoples, and the traditional leaders.

“Their participation in governance, as well as for the non-Moro IPs, are assured in the reserved seats they would occupy in the Bangsamoro Parliament,” he said.

Human rights and vested property rights are also guaranteed, he said.

Traditional leaders shall be represented in the Council of Leaders which shall be created once the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) is formed.

Under Article 9 on Basic Rights, Jaafar assured that “no fundamental and sacred right of any people in the Bangsamo, be he Muslim, Christian or Indigenous People, is diminished or violated under the BBL.”

He said Sec. 12, Article 13 also guarantees that “right to life and property are protected. Other rights can be found in other articles, such as preferential rights over the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources, including fossil fuels.”

Jaafar said the draft bill will laso help the Bangsamoro realize their legitimate aspiration to chart their political destiny and pursue economic, socio-cultural and even religious development.

“The draft BBL gives them the framework and space to establish a ministerial form of government that can provide them with the opportunity and powers to evolve not only a government but a system of life compatible with their cultural and historical experience,” he said.

He assured the new BBL will uphold democracy and the establishment of the Bangsamoro itself will “undergo a process of ratification wherein all affected residents of the core territories and contiguous areas shall be asked freely whether they shall join in the new political entity.”

A separate five-member GPH panel, headed by Presidential Adviser on Peace Process undersecretary Nabil Tan, was created to deal with another five-member panel, headed by Randolph Parcasio, of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari.

BTC member lawyer Jose I. Lorena said the President will merge the drafts and come out with a harmonized version that he will submit to Congress.

He said BTC has made sure to include the important consensus points of the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) the MNLF signed with the government in 1996 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Isa lang naman ang batas na ilalabas ng Presidente. Mas maganda kasi makuha ang magagandang picture dito at sa napaguusapan sa kanila (There’s only one document that the President will come out. It’s going to be better because it will capture all the better pictures of what we had talked from the what they had talked,” he said.

Should there be any “complications” in the harmonization of the drafts, Jaafar said, “We will cross the bridge when we get there.”

“It’s the privilege of the President, because he wants the problem of peace in Mindanao, to create another panel (for Misuari). It is part of his efforts to improve the peace talks and probably all he wants is to get everybody on-board,” he said.

“Kung sa ganyan paraan magiging maganda ang paglutas ng problema, siguro pasalamatan natin ang pangulo. Tungkol doon sa maaring complication nito titingnan muna natin kung ano ang maging resulta nito pagtutulungan natin, ayusin (If doing so will have a better solution to the problem, then we should thank the President. On the complication, let us fee first what the result will be and let’s help each other out to fix it),” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)