MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is likely to miss the opportunity to have the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law tackled before Congress adjourns next week since the measure is still being fine-tuned to ensure that every provision adheres to the Constitution.


In a press briefing yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda assured the people that the Bangsamoro measure is not being watered down or purposely being delayed, only that they were being careful.


Lacierda said the draft basic law, submitted to the Office of the President on April 14, is still being evaluated and studied by the Palace legal team.


The bill that was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) would pave the way for the replacement of the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro government.


Congress adjourns sine die on June 14 and will resume sessions on July 28 for President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address.


The Palace and the Commission on Elections earlier said the bill would have to be passed into law this year to give them enough time to prepare for the 2016 elections.


Asked why it was taking so long, Lacierda said “it’s the evaluation of the bill itself.”


“They have to go through each and every provision just to be sure that it is in sync with all the agreements made,” Lacierda said.


The drafting of the law came after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27.


The bill was supposed to have been forwarded to Congress on May 5 and certified urgent by the President.


Lacierda assured MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal that the bill would reflect the CAB and its annexes.


Lacierda said he could not discuss the contentious points because he was not part of the review committee.


He said they want the proposed law to stand judicial scrutiny, especially since there were criticisms that it is unconstitutional.


“To a large extent, we want to make sure that when it goes to Congress, it will be as smooth as possible,” Lacierda said.


Critics of the agreement, including Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, insisted that it was unconstitutional because it diminished the sovereignty of the government. -- Aurea Calica/Philippine Star