Bicam’s work done, final BBL ready


The Bicameral Conference Committee reconciling the Senate and House versions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) completed its deliberations yesterday and expects to submit a report to President Duterte on July 17, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said.

“Yes, we finished everything in principle at 12:15 a.m.,” he said in a message to reporters.

“The Bicam Conference Committee authorized Senator (Juan Miguel) Zubiri and (me) to finalize our report and we will meet on Tuesday, July 17, for its approval and, forthwith, forward it to the President for his consideration,” said Fariñas, who chairs the panel.

He added if Mr. Duterte approves the final version of the BBL, it will be ratified in plenary by both chambers of Congress during the opening of the third regular session at 10 a.m. on July 23 and it would be signed into law by the President on or before his third State of the Nation Address at 4 p.m.

Zubiri said among the provisions adopted in the bicameral version of the BBL are the creation of a Shari’ah High Court and the joint powers of the Bangsamoro government and national government over the exploration, development and use of fossil fuels and uranium in the new region.

He added the bicameral committee approved the 75-25 Bangsamoro and central government wealth sharing but deleted the proposed anti-political dynasty provision.

Mr. Duterte convinced congressional leaders to adopt the House version of the BBL which provides “the six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and the 39 barangays of North Cotabato could vote to join the BBL territory in a referendum to be conducted in the mother territory of the areas involved.”

BTC, AFP heads meet
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military is committed to achieve lasting peace and development in the proposed Bangsamoro region at a meeting with Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) chair Commissioner Ghazali Jaafar at Camp Aguinaldo last Thursday.

“The cooperation and solidarity among us are necessary now more than ever as we are only a few steps closer to achieving the objectives of the transition process. I trust that we shall see better days ahead for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” Galvez said.

During the meeting, Col. Cesar de Mesa, the chief of the AFP Peace and Development Office, presented updates on the military’s efforts in support of the BBL.

Efforts are currently focused on ensuring the successful implementation of the various peace mechanisms.

Initially, the AFP was able to train 14 teams which were deployed in Central and Western Mindanao in June 2018 as peace monitors.

AGFO gives backing
A group composed of retired generals at the AFP has declared its full support to the passage of the proposed BBL being pushed by the Duterte administration to finally attain a genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao.

“The Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) fully supports the program of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, especially in the issue of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We are confident the President has developed a meaningful program to bring about peace in Mindanao,” Raul Urgello, AGFO president, said in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) at the sidelines of the AGFO regular meeting held at General Ricarte’s Hall in Fort Bonifacio on Thursday.

The BBL is being thoroughly examined and debated by members of both the Senate and House of Congress.

“I’m sure they (lawmakers) will come out with a law acceptable to our government and the Bangsamoro,” said Urgello, a retired three-star general and former commanding general of the Philippine Army with almost two decades assignment in Mindanao during the war in the 1970s and 1980s.

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