Extremely urgent matter

The crafting of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is extremely an urgent matter. Time is of essence. The proposed law should be submitted to Congress on or before July this year, so that Congress should have ample time to deliberate and pass it immediately.

In order to speed up the process, both government and MILF have to submit their nominees to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) without delay. The BTC should have been reconstituted long time ago, preferably as early as September.

We are not faulting anyone. Perhaps, the delay was caused by the unforeseen complexities of the whole peace process. Compared to the previous administration, the peace process under the current administration falls into place as early as August 13 when the two peace implementing panels were launched in Kuala Lumpur. But the difference is that during the Aquino dispensation the two parties were yet to negotiate the hardest part of the agenda of the negotiation; this time, every imaginable hard issues are settled; they are already in signed documents. The process is already in implementation mode. This is the reason the panels’ nomenclature was changed from peace negotiating panel to peace implementing panel.

On December 13, the MILF submitted its list of nominees to the BTC during the meeting of the government and MILF peace implementing panels in Davao City. The government also named its nominees to the BTC, five of whom are lawyers, last December 23.

The incoming BTC commissioners should be appointed by the president immediately so that they buckle to work immediately. They are several preliminary issues that they have to attain to which could fast-track the crafting of the new proposed law. We are sure that their appointment is only a matter of time, maybe days only. We trust the commitment of the president in ensuring the enactment of the BBL. If we see the urgency of this issue, we are sure he is more aware of this urgency.

On the lighter side, as a compliment, crafting this new BBL is expected to be not as difficult as the previous one, which virtually started from scratch. Many of the previous commissioners virtually have no knowledge about legislation.

If there are no obstructionists to the process, the July timeline for submission is not so difficult to beat. We hope that all members of the BTC should have one agenda in mind: Craft the best BBL for the Bangsamoro people and finish it on time. They should work as one unit, as one body, and guided only by the higher interest of our people.

The previous BTC had acted as one solid body. They have never decided anything including major issues by resorting to the division of the house; they always settled matters either by consensus or the body authorized the chairman of the BTC to decide on matters at issue.

The other reason for this optimism is that while the reconstituted BTC has to make a new BBL but the reality is that it is not really new, because the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will still be the guiding parameter. The principle of inclusivity applies in so far as enhancing and improving the new proposed law by culling from other agreements, documents, or laws, say the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement on 1996, R.A. 9054, Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act, so on and so forth in order to produce a law that answers the need of everybody and addresses the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for a genuine self-governing entity.