Palace misses Moro law deadline
Malacañang on Monday failed to transmit to Congress the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, thus missing the deadline for the submission of the measure that would pave the way for the establishment of a new autonomous region in Mindanao | PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Monday failed to transmit to Congress the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, thus missing the deadline for the submission of the measure that would pave the way for the establishment of a new autonomous region in Mindanao.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the draft law submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) on April 14 was still being reviewed by the Palace legal team.
He could not say when the review would be completed and when the document would finally be transmitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“We are aware of the sense of urgency on the matter because we have a timeline that we need to follow,” Coloma said in Filipino in a press briefing.
He said the Office of the President’s legal team and the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel were still studying the draft “to determine propriety for inclusion in the legislative agenda of the President.”
“This review ensures meticulous and circumspect evaluation that each provision of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law conforms to the Constitution and the signed agreements,” he said.
On Sunday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the draft was supposed to be submitted Monday when Congress resumed its session.
“Originally, our discussion was that we would have it by tomorrow [May 5],” he said in a radio interview over dzBB radio.
But Drilon said the BTC’s submission of the draft to Malacañang had also been delayed.
“This could not be given to the Senate or the House without being reviewed by the lawyers from the Office of the President and the DOJ [Department of Justice],” Drilon said.
Drilon said the review would make sure that the proposed law “would not be shamefully against the Constitution.”
Despite the delay, he was optimistic the administration would still be able to meet its target, which is to submit the law to a plebiscite and put up the Bangsamoro autonomous region by 2016.
“I think the deadline would still be met. I just hope the submission of the administration measure to Congress would not be delayed for so long,” he said, vowing to give the draft bill “priority once we receive it.”
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said that many people were clamoring for the passage of the draft law.
“I’m happy that some of our Muslim brothers are calling on us to pass it. But it’s a little bit premature because they (Palace) haven’t submitted the draft law,” Cayetano said by phone.
But while Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. predicted the proposed law would be passed by yearend, Cayetano said its approval would depend on its provisions and its implications.
“It’s the details that will be important,” he said. “There are a lot of questions regarding the annexes. The annexes will come to life depending on how the law is written. If the law is very articulate and it will answer many questions to the satisfaction of the lawmakers, then it will be speeded up. But if it will raise questions, it can be delayed.”
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, headed by Mohagher Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, submitted the draft law to the Office of the President on April 14.
Two commissioners from the government side, Johaira Wahab and Fatmawati Salapuddin, skipped the signing of the draft law, according to reports.
Coloma said that Malacañang hoped to submit the draft law to Congress in June or earlier.
In his speech during the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on March 28, President Aquino said he would go all-out in forging a “principled consensus.”
He said he expected congressional deliberations to be “characterized by a sincere desire to improve on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and not by self-interest that only aims to perpetuate an untenable status quo.”
If the law is ratified in the areas covered by the Bangsamoro region, the Bangsamoro people could take part in the 2016 national elections.— Christian V. Esguerra with a report from TJ A. Burgonio/Philippine Daily Inquirer