BBL will be 99% acceptable — Zubiri

Supporters of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) taking a selfie outside the bicameral conference venue in Manila. AP

By Mario J. Mallari
and Elmer Navarro Manuel

Jaafar maintained the MILF still sees peace negotiations as the most civilized way to settle the Bangsamoro Issue.

The bicameral committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) yesterday vowed to produce a proposal 99 percent acceptable to the Bangsamoro people to avoid “frustration,” especially from the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its supporters.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is leading the Senate contingent, stressed they are thoroughly reconciling and studying all the provisions of the BBL to keep them within the bounds of the Constitution.

Zubiri said the bicameral committee does not want a repeat of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) signed during the Arroyo administration but was shot down by the Supreme Court in 2008.

“Anything we do here, (if) we make a mistake on (the) Shariah provision, on public order and security provision, even on the power given to Bangsamoro, there will be corresponding outcome whether frustration on the MILF side or supporters of Bangsamoro,” Zubiri said.

“But 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,” Zubiri said.

“We don’t want a scenario just like MoA-AD when it was taken up in the Supreme Court (and) it was shot down and we were back to zero. 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,” he added.

In 2008, the High Tribunal declared the MoA-AD signed by the government and MILF peace panels as unconstitutional – sparking widespread attacks by MILF forces in Lanao, Maguindanao and Sarangani provinces.

Zubiri, however, admitted they cannot please everybody with their reconciled version.
“My heart is with them. I am supporting peace, I don’t want any outbreak of hostilities to come out in any barangay or sitio in this country when it comes with BBL,” Zubiri said.

“That is why the pressure is terribly on, the weight of the pressure is terrible on our shoulders, this is no laughing matter. So as far as we are concerned we have to thoroughly discuss, make sure that we know the possible outcome of whatever decisions we make,” he added.

Disagreeing provisions
Presided jointly by House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Zubiri, the bicameral panel composed of select members of the House of Representatives and the Senate focused first on 14 articles in their task of ironing out the disagreeing provisions of HB 6574 and Senate Bill 1717.

The sub-committee composed of Fariñas and Zubiri, as well as Representatives Khalid Dimaporo, Abdullah Dimaporo and Celso Lobregat and Sen. Sonny Angara, was assigned to tackle issue on specific geographical area and territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro entity.

A group composed of Representatives Arthur Defensor, Jr., Khalid Dimaporo and Amihilda Sangcopan and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, on the other hand, was tasked to work on Article V which outlines the powers granted to the Bangsamoro government.

On Monday, MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said he could not say what would happen if a “watered-down” BBL is passed.

He stressed that anything lesser than the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) law is not acceptable to them.

Jaafar maintained the MILF still sees peace negotiations as the most civilized way to settle the Bangsamoro issue.

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