Next admin must have strong group to lobby Congress for BBL passage: PCID

Dismayed over the failure of the House of Representatives to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) suggests that the next administration should have a “strong group” to lobby Congress for the passage of the measure.

“There is a need for the next President to create a strong group who has access to the legislators, who can explain well and who will be listened to” Amina Rasul, president of the PCID, said in an interview.

The Lower House adjourned sessions yesterday (Feb 3) without passing the BBL, a legislation that would establish an autonomous Bangsamoro region that could address the longing of the Bangsamoro people for self-governance.

President Aquino lobbied for the Congress’ support to pass the measure. He held meeting with members of the House of Representatives twice. The President wanted to finish the Bangsamoro peace process in his term. 

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been engaged in more than 17 years of peace negotiation to find a lasting solution to the decades of conflict in Southern Philippines.

In March 27, 2014, the GPH and MILF inked the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which is the basis for the drafting of the BBL. 

The Aquino Administration created the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to draft the BBL.  After doing its major task, the BTC submitted to Malacañan the draft Bangsamoro law which was hoped to be passed by Congress by April 2015. 

On September 10, 2014, the draft Bangsamoro law was handed over to the House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon at Malacañan Palace.

However, the Mamasapano incident last January 25, 2015 where 44 Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in armed confrontation with MILF fighters and other Moro armed groups, adversely affected the legislative process for the BBL passage. 

The police commandoes were dispatched for a covert operation to neutralize international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, a.k.a Marwan who was hiding in Maguindanao.

The sincerity of the MILF to the peace process was put in question after the ill-fated incident. Peace advocates urged the lawmakers to treat the Mamasapano encounter separate from the peace process.

At Kapehan sa Senado this morning, Senate President Franklin Drilon said although the BBL has been temporarily side-tracked, it can still be presented again the 17th Congress.  

Rasul said that after the Mamasapano incident, she expected the passage of BBL to be very difficult.

The PCID is a peace advocate organization supportive of the Bangsamoro peace process. The group fosters interfaith dialogue, inter-cultural understanding and promotion of women’s and human rights.