MANILA – Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has emphasized the importance of taking full advantage of all the opportunities now at hand to finally achieve genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao by coming out with a well-crafted Bangsamoro Basic Law.
”It is my belief that everybody should be included and that’s my approach. Whatever their stand, let’s invite them and let them speak,” Marcos said in a media interview during his 57th birthday party at their ancestral house in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Marcos said giving everybody, specially the people of Mindanao, a chance to speak on the proposed BBL will make sure the long and exhausting peace talks between the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will benefit the whole nation.
”That’s the point of exercise to make sure that the opportunity for peace, we take full advantage of it by not passing something that is incomplete, not well thought of, the gaps and contradictory,” Marcos said.
”My intention also is to report everything they will say. So it will be up to both sides to decide on what the final form of the BBL will be achieved. It would not be good if we will not make use to the hilt the opportunity,” he added.
To make sure that his goal will be achieved, Marcos has set on Sept. 23 the panel briefing with “peacemakers” on the 120-page BBL draft submitted by Malacanang to the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday last week.
Marcos said Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles told him that she will submit on Monday the list of people who should speak during the first briefing of the Senate panel.
Although he is expecting a long list of resource persons, Marcos has initially sent invitations to Deles, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief government negotiator; Mohaguer Iqbal, chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; Ghazali Jaafar, Moro Islamic Liberation Front vice chairman for political affairs; Atty. Mike Mastura, chairman, Advocacy Committee of MILF Negotiating Panel; and Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
”The briefing is for the peace panel only. It is to give them a chance to explain the whole thing under 120 pages. It’s not yet a hearing, it’s a briefing,” he clarified.
The lawmakers said he also prefer for the Senate and the House to conduct separate public hearings on the proposed law for the creation of the Bangsamoro entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
”In papers, it look like a good idea to hold a combined hearing but the House ad hoc committee alone has 75 and the Senate 15 members. So all of them cannot throw question. I think it would be practical if we do it separately,” Marcos said.
Marcos said his committee intends to hold the initial public hearing in Manila and the rest in the Mindanao areas which will be covered by the proposed Bangsamoro entity.