BBL OK before SoNA assured

By Angie M. Rosales
and Mario J. Mallari

The intercession of President Rodrigo Duterte has made definite the passage of the landmark Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which will establish a new political entity in Mindanao, by next week, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

An impasse on territorial jurisdiction and plebiscite stumped the bicameral conference committee that needed a meeting of the National Security Council to resolve.

Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives sought guidance from Mr. Duterte as the bicameral committee worked to untangle a deadlock on the final BBL version.

The members of the bicameral committee could only agree that provisions on the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region can only be resolved through guidance from Mr. Duterte.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who led the Senate contingent, and his House counterpart, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, along with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and Representatives Bai Sandra Sema and Khalid Dimaporo were at the meeting with Mr. Duterte.

“(Malacañang is) pleased to announce that the President facilitated the passage of the BBL by convincing the two chambers of Congress to adopt the (lower) House version of the BBL,” Roque said.

The House version on the BBL provides for the six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and the 39 barangays of North Cotabato could vote to join the new Bangsamoro territory in a referendum to be conducted on the mother territory of the areas involved.

“With the President’s intervention citing constitutional provision and the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Umali, the passage of the BBL has been assured,” Roque said.

Mr. Duterte will sign the BBL into law before he delivers the third State of the Nation Address (SoNA).

Senators and congressmen could not agree among themselves on the inclusion of the six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato in the proposed new Bangsamoro region.

Concerns were raised by some district representatives opposed to the idea as they stand to lose their political territory.

Drilon says no rush
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he would not rush crafting of a reconciled version of the BBL to avoid negative repercussions, but he expressed hopes that it could be in the President’s third SoNA on July 23.

“I would be deliberate rather than be rushed into finishing (the BBL) in time for the SoNA. We will try to finish it before the SoNA. But that should not be a deadline,” Drilon said.

“Rather, we should deliberate and study it well, because this is a document that can spell the difference between peace and stability and conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” he added.

Political decision needed
Drilon stressed the need for the President’s guidance amid the “deadlock.”

“It will involve some political decisions and the President, being the highest political officer, would have to decide. If there is a deadlock on this issue and politically, since he is the President, he may have to make a political decision to resolve the deadlock,” Drilon said.

At press time, Drilon said two issues were still for discussion — the territorial jurisdiction and the provision on judicial system or Shariah law.

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