MANILA – Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. on Wednesday clarified that he is not against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
”Actually I want to make it a perfect BBL and that’s why we are studying it carefully and not rushing the process,” Marcos said.
Marcos admitted that he felt offended by a huge tarpaulin showing pictures of three senators, including him, tagged as anti-BBL and anti-peace in Sultan Kudarat. Other senators in the pictures are Senators JV Ejercito and Alan Peter Cayetano.
”I’m a little bit upset because I’m doing my best to improve the BBL. But I guess they are just expressing their opinion. Sen. JV and Alan withdrew from supporting BBL. I don’t know why I was included among the anti-BBL senators,” Marcos said.
Marcos said the people behind the tarpaulin that went viral in the social media might have misinterpreted his decision to suspend the BBL hearings in the Senate due to the Mamasapano encounter that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) men dead.
In fact, Marcos said the Senate would resume the BBL hearings even without the MILF surrendering their comrades who participated in the bloody encounter that also left 18 MILF fighters dead.
”I think we will resume hearings without the surrender. I think as soon as we can resume hearings,” Marcos said.
Earlier, Marcos said the Senate’s BBL hearings would resume once the results of the Board of Inquiry of the Philippine National Police and of the MILF investigation were given to the Senate.
Marcos said the Senate, led by his committee on local government, would try its best to finish the BBL within the new June 30 deadline.
Meanwhile, Senator Chiz Escudero said Congress would not simply rubber stamp the draft BBL without sifting through its facts to resolve contentious issues, as what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seemed to fancy from the legislators.
“Let the MILF be reminded that we in Congress are not dictating, we are legislating,” Escudero said, in reference to a statement attributed to MILF’s Mohagher Iqbal cautioning Congress against imposing pre-conditions to clear the way for the approval of the BBL.
The senator underscored the need for a thorough review of the BBL draft since Congress has no participation in the crafting of the proposal put together by Philippine and MILF negotiators.
”We were actually kept in the dark, and now they give us this take-it-or-leave-it stance. This is demanding; they are the ones demanding,” Escudero, chair of Senate committee on finance, said.
Escudero scored government negotiators for not doing their job and has put them to task to relay to the MILF the work Congress needs to do in as far as the negotiated draft agreement is concerned. He said they should also be forthright about the limitations of their negotiating jurisdiction.
Escudero was referring to a Dec. 29, 2014 letter from MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to the House of Representatives, as cited by Cayetano in the Senate Mamasapano hearing last February.
In a letter dated Dec. 29, 2014, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told the House of Representatives that when they negotiated the peace agreement they had “the understanding it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or the ‘whole of government’ especially since the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President allow him to bind the whole government including its different branches.”
“It’s now up for Congress to clean up the mess our government negotiators have created. Now let OPPAP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) and the GRP panel work and impress upon their counterparts that Congress reviewing the draft BBL and amending provisions is fairly part of our democratic process,” Escudero said.