President’s strongest statement ever on BBL

"I assure you, before the end of May, it will be passed. If not, I might just resign from the presidency. You deal with that. I can't do it anymore.”

This is the strongest statement ever made by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which we have no doubt about the purity of intention and commitment.

The statement was made during a turnover of unlicensed firearms in Buluan, Maguindanao last April 25. Around 800 firearms of various calibers were surrendered to government under the Balik Baril Program of the Duterte’s administration. Those who surrendered their weapons were awarded various packages such as stalls, scholarship grants, and local textile weaving tools for their families.

The BBL is yet to be passed by Congress, because it is still in recess. They will resume session on May 14 and ends in June. The Senate had its version of the law, S.N. Bill 1717, while the House has yet to make the bill number formal after they have decided to adopt the omnibus motion of House Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema to adopt the BTC-crafted BBL without any revision.

In the past, the President used to make strong statements such as: “I will make the BBL as template of federalism in the country”, and “There is nothing that can appease the Muslims or Moros if you do not give them the BBL”. 

But this time, it is more blunt and categorical. It leaves nothing to the imagination to doubt that he cannot do it.  His party has the super majority in the House and in the Senate, nobody has stood against the BBL. Even the minority bloc, the Liberal Party senators, led by Senator Franklin Drilon, had expressed open support for the proposed law. This is understandable, because the BBL was started during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III after the government and MILF had successfully signed the two most important agreements namely, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014.

The BBL is a legal instrument, and is meant to implement the FAB and CAB, which are political documents.  And without this legal instrument, the full implementation of these agreements hangs in the balance. Directly linked, the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants, which is central to the normalization process, will also be delayed.

Perhaps, the only lacking in the equation that would fast-track the legislative process is a formal certification of the BBL as urgent administration bill. Such certification can abbreviate the process by virtually combining the second reading and third reading simultaneously. It can save time and effort and lessens the debate on the floor.

This certification is pursuant also to the agreement of the government and MILF, specifically in the Annex on Transitional Arrangement and Modalities, signed on February 27, 2013 to wit: “The President shall submit the proposed Basic Law to Congress as a legislative proposal. The bill for the proposed Basic Law shall be certified as urgent by the President.”