By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is appealing for understanding that lawmakers are working to ensure the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would pass the test of constitutionality.
This comes amid calls for the Congress to reject a watered-down BBL and stick to the original proposals of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
During the second day of the Congress bicameral conference commitee’s deliberation on the proposed BBL, All-Out Peace, a network of peace and civil society groups based in Mindanao, trooped outside the Crowne Plaza in Pasig City to appeal for the approval of the BTC’s draft BBL.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chair and BTC chairman Ghazali Jaafar, on Monday, warned that a diluted version of the proposed law would be rejected by voters when it is presented during a plebiscite.
But Zubiri, on Tuesday, maintained they are amending the measure to make it “constitutionally-sound.”
“We are making an appeal to the supporters of the Bangsamoro organic act, that we are trying our best to pass a measure that is constitutionally-sound. We don’t want a scenario just like MOA-AD when it was taken up in the Supreme Court (SC) it was shot down and we were back to zero,” he said.
The senator referred to the memorandum of agreement on the ancestral domain (MOA-AD) between the government and the MILF, which the SC, in 2008, declared unconstitutional.
“We want to make sure that we pass a constitutionally accepted constitutionally-sound Bangsamoro organic law which will stand the test of any question at the SC,” Zubiri added.
In his assurance, Zubiri reiterated that the proposed BBL will be an “ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) plus,” meaning they would enhance the current Republic Act 9054.
He even called the proposed BBL “one of the best pieces of legislation for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Zubiri said they have yet to go through at least 40 pages of the 180-page bill, containing the six most contentious provisions of the measure.
Specifically, it includes the articles on the powers of government; taxes and fiscal matters; public order and national security; justice system or the Shari’ah court; the Bangsamoro parliament; and territory and plebiscite.
Zubiri said they aim to finish the first five articles Tuesday night, and continue discussing the disagreeing provisions on the proposed Bangsamoro territory and plebiscite.