Friday, February 7, 2014

Drilon Assures BTC of Senate support

From the Website of MILF

Drilon Assures BTC of Senate support

  • Friday, Feb 07 2014
Saying that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be on “top of the common legislative agenda” of the 16th Congress of the Philippines, Senate President Franklin Drilon expressed the Upper House’s full support to the workings of the Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) which gave him a courtesy visit February 6.

The head of the Senate even told the BTC chairman and commissioners that he and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. have imposed upon themselves December 31 of this year as target for the enactment of the law that would govern the new Bangsamoro government.

Along with fellow Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, Drilon warmly welcomed the delegation headed by BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal and 12 other commissioners. OPAPP Sec. Teresita Deles was also present during the courtesy call.

Drilon was emphatic in saying that the Senate is unanimous in believing that the peace process is critical not only for Mindanao but for the entire country.

He urged the BTC to “submit the BBL as early as possible,” noting that there is urgency for passage of the said law.

In reply thereto, Iqbal reiterated their self-imposed target of March 31 this year for the submission of the BBL to the President. During their January 30 visit to Malacanan, Iqbal told President Benigno Aquino III that they would submit the BBL to the latter by the end of next month.

Iqbal told Drilon that they have never doubted the sincerity of the Senate President in supporting the BBL. Part of reasons why the BTC went to the Senate is to seek advises from the latter’s officials. Iqbal said they need technical advises even from international and local experts because as revolutionaries they were not used to making laws.

Drilon admitted that he was one of those who opposed the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on issues of constitutionality. Thus, he stressed before the BTC that it must craft a basic law that does not contain provisions contrary to the Philippine Constitution, otherwise there would be a “lot of convincing needed”. He advised the BTC to pursue constitutional amendments in other forums since it is a “separate process.”

From among the significant portions of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the veteran senator admitted he finds no constitutional infirmity on the ministerial form of government for the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal also added that till now, the Commission has not yet encountered anything that requires constitutional amendment.

Sen. Guingona III, whose Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation would eventually scrutinize the BBL, expressed hopes for the final closure of the peace process who described it as “17 years of negotiations, patience and hardwork.”

Iqbal also relayed to Drilon the greetings of the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

A press conference attended by various national media outfits was made afterwards.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also showed up to meet and exchange pleasantries with the BTC officials.

MILF Website

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