Mohagher Iqbal asks Congress to pass ‘original’ BBL

By , on August 6, 2015

Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chairman Mohagher Iqbal  (Photo from Senator Grace Poe's official Facebook page)
Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chairman Mohagher Iqbal
(Photo from Senator Grace Poe’s official Facebook page)

MANILA – Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chairman Mohagher Iqbal sent a formal letter to the House of Representatives, asking that the 28 removed provisions be restored and the ‘original’ Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) be passed instead of the ‘draft’ BBL.

In his letter addressed to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Iqbal provided a copy of the Resolution 005 series of 2015 supporting the passage of the BBL ‘in its original form’ as it was the ‘most appropriate version.’

“The BTC implores the better judgment of the leadership of both houses of Congress to pass the BBL in its original form and to henceforth act according to the terms of the peace agreements,” the resolution read.

“The BTC stands firm that the proposed BBL in its original form is the most appropriate version based on the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), and considering that it is the one that underwent the legitimate process of consultation with the people and engagement with the Office of the President,” it continued.

The House has been scheduled to resume deliberations on the BBL next week. It has also aimed to approve the bill before September, in time for the discussions of the 2016 national budget.

However, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez admitted that it was unlikely for the House to act on the BTC’s request because the 28 deleted provisions were unconstitutional.

Two of the controversial provisions were allowing cities and provinces to join the Bangsamoro region upon petitions with only 10 percent votes from residents and giving the Bangsamoro government control over internal security, including its own military.

Meanwhile, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. clarified that one of the reasons why the passing of the BBL has taken so long was because the decommissioning of MILF had been the subject of debates.

Government peace panel legal team member Sittie Amirah Pendatun, on the other hand, asserted that the decommissioning of the MILF need not be included in the proposed BBL as they knew so well that the Philippine Constitution only allowed one subject per bill.

“We have explained many times before that decommissioning as well as the broader normalization process need not be in the BBL,” Pendatun said in a Philippine Star report.

“The BBL is really about the establishment of an autonomous region. It’s about the creation of a political entity which seeks to establish an inclusive system of governance for a multicultural segment of the Philippine population, and not about the MILF per se,” she added.

The BBL, which was written in 2013, sought to form an autonomous region in Mindanao.