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BBL remains top priority of Aquino administration August 15, 2015

Posted by HERBERT CURIA in PEACE TALK UPDATES.
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From the Website of OPPAP
links: http://www.opapp.gov.ph/milf/news/gov%E2%80%99t-welcomes-marcos-sponsorship-bbl-sets-record-straight-issues

Gov’t welcomes Marcos sponsorship of BBL, sets record straight on issues

MANILA – Both the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the government panel that negotiated the peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) today said they welcome Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s sponsorship of his version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the Senate.

At the same time, the OPAPP and the government peace panel took the opportunity to clarify several issues raised by the senator in his sponsorship speech of the BBL, where he emphasized the importance of inclusiveness and raised several questions regarding the Bangsamoro peace process.

“Certainly we welcome this development in the Senate, especially because it means the plenary debates in the upper house (of Congress) will begin at last,” government negotiating panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.

OPAPP Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles echoed Ferrer’s sentiment, saying that “we are happy because the Senate is finally catching up with the House of Representatives in terms of this process, and because we are another step closer to the passage of the BBL.”

Inclusivity of BBL

Ferrer said the government panel also lauds the efforts of Sen. Marcos to make his substitute bill even more inclusive, noting that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement that served as the basis of the proposed legislation, was already the product of more than 550 consultations done by the OPAPP, in addition to consultations also done by the MILF panel. Aside from this, according to Ferrer, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which drafted the bill, and both chambers of Congress have also conducted their respective consultations.

While more than 550 consultations were done by the OPAPP, the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL held 51 public hearings and consultations while its counterpart in the Senate, chaired by Sen. Marcos, conducted 12 public hearings and one briefing.

“The BBL also has numerous provisions to ensure inclusiveness, especially in terms of guaranteeing the rights and encouraging the participation of sectors like women, indigenous peoples, and so on. This, in addition to the number of consultations we made, shows that the BBL is inclusive both procedurally and substantively,” Ferrer noted.

Ferrer emphasized that, from the start, the original draft of the BBL already conceived the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to be inclusive and multi-sectoral. Article XVI, Section 2 of the original BBL draft states that “the BTA shall be composed of fifty (50) members, all of whom shall be appointed by the President; provided that, non-Moro indigenous communities, women, settler communities and other sectors shall have representatives in the BTA. Nominations may be submitted to the office of the President for this purpose.”

The BTA shall be the interim government or the governing body in the Bangsamoro during the transition period from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Transparency

Deles, for her part, said that the entirety of the process leading to the crafting of the BBL has always been open and transparent.

“The processes we went through were really open and transparent,” Deles stressed. “Not many people were very interested in the peace process then, but those who have always been closely monitoring its progress would recall that we always have media sessions after the talks to update the public on the state of the process.”

In recognition of the crucial role of Congress in the implementation of the Bangsamoro peace pact, Deles said that several lawmakers were invited to join during the conduct of the peace talks in Malaysia. Among others who participated were Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III.

At the same time, consultations and briefings with members of both chambers of Congress were also done while peace negotiations were ongoing. In the Senate, said meetings were  convened by the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation and were attended among others by Sen. Gregorio B. Honasan II, Sen. Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV, and then Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

As for Malaysia’s involvement in the peace process, Deles stressed that Malaysia has been the third-party facilitator in the peace process  that started during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with the Philippine government asking Malaysia to participate as an impartial third-party facilitator.###

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