Bangsamoro Basic Law: BTC, Senate and House versions

On July 9 to 13,  the Bicameral Conference Committee (bicam) composed of 18 members from the House of Representatives and 10 from the Senate will meet to come up with the final version of the law creating the Bangsamoro political entity  by reconciling House Bill 6475 and Senate Bill 1717 which they passed in late May.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), had raised concerns about what he described as “very diluted” versions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which is supposed to be the enabling law of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed by government (GPH) and the MILF on March 27, 2014, after 17 years of peace negotiations.

Murad noted there were many provisions in the BBL that were changed which “resulted to violation of the (CAB)” and new provisions introduced that were not in the agreement or the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) but which “substantially watered down yung concept, the very concept of self-determination.”

The MILF, he said, will “exert all efforts” to raise these concerns with the government before the bicam and decide after the final version comes out, what their option will be, in consultation with the Moro people, if they will accept or reject it.

“Always the process of the MILF is we will consult our people so maybe before we accept, we will conduct consultation,” he said, adding “even if we accept it, if the people don’t accept it, don’t support us, then we cannot do much if the  people will not support us.”

To help readers understand what changes were made by the two houses of Congress on the BTC-drafted BBL, here is a  matrix of the three versions of the proposed law: BTC 2017 as drafted by the BTC,  HB 6475 and SB 1717 as passed on third and final reading in May 2018.

Tasked to craft the BBL was the BTC composed of 21 members — 11 nominated by the MILF and 10 by the government — as agreed upon by both parties under the CAB.

Every page of the matrix (129 pages) carries red markings: red strike through to mean deleted and red bold to mean additions or amendments.

The matrix was prepared by Cotabato City-based Bangsamoro Study Group (BSG) which also did a similar matrix of the versions in 2015 and whose key points MindaNews published. (No BBL was passed under the Aquino administration).

The BSG is a resource center composed of Moro lawyers and other professionals who provide analysis on various Moro issues especially on the peace process. It gave legal and technical assistance to the MILF peace panel during the negotiations for the CAB and the drafting of the BBL in 2014 under the Aquino administration and in 2017 under the Duterte administration.

MindaNews was granted permission to publish this matrix.