Congress leadership to prioritize Bangsamoro bill – OPPAP

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Feb) – The leadership of both houses of Congress have manifested to the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be bumped up in both chambers’ agenda as a priority bill, OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said.

Speaking to reporters during a civil society organization leaders’ summit held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel last Monday, Deles said that Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other Congress leaders have agreed to prioritize a law that will be endorsed to both houses by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

She said that Congress is aiming for the law to be passed by December 31, 2014.

Deles added that Aquino has also given the BTC until March 31, 2014, for the crafting of a draft for the basic law.

In an interview at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Maguindanao and Cotabato City Rep. Bai Sandra Sinsuat A. Sema said that a basic law that would create the Bangsamoro would also push for the economic development of the areas that would identify themselves as Bangsamoro.

“We really need to move on this,” Sema said, lauding the multi-stakeholder nature of the process. “The (Moro National Liberation Front) is on board, the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is on board.”

Sema added that those who will craft the law needed to learn from past experiences and integrate what they learned into the crafting of the new law. “We’re hoping for economic development. We want those in the Bangsamoro to be able to be self-productive,” she said.

Sema said the House of Representatives was just waiting for the transition commission to submit their draft.

“The challenge now is how to attract more people to support this. What we need to come up with is a law that will really address what we are fighting for in the ARMM, like poverty,” she said.

Deles said that the agency is hoping for more people to support the peace process so that “it’s not just a scrap of paper.”

She added that the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Bangsamoro itself are “generally a product of peace” as it was agreed upon by all the protagonists, not just the MILF and the government of the Philippines but also included other stakeholders.

The peace process adviser appealed to opponents of the measure to reach out, especially addressing Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari for his being a major player in the Final Peace Agreement signed in 1996.