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PNoy personally submits draft Bangsamoro law to Congress leaders

(Updated 12:02 p.m.) In a rare show of support for a piece of legislation, President Benigno Aquino III personally submitted on Wednesday the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress leaders.
Aquino, through his peace adviser Secretary Teresita Deles, turned over the priority measure to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon during a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace.

In his speech during the turnover ceremony, Aquino said the Bangsamoro bill will be beneficial to all stakeholders.

“Tinitiyak ko po sa inyo: Pinanday ang Bangsamoro Basic Law upang maging makatwiran, makatarungan, at katanggap-tanggap sa lahat, Moro man, Lumad, o Kristiyano,” he said.

“Tiwala ang nagdala sa atin dito… Napatunayan po natin: sa panahong hindi natin iniisip kung paano makakapanlamang, narating natin ang isang sitwasyon kung saan lahat ay panalo,” he added.
The event marked the first time Aquino personally oversaw the submission of a proposed law to Congress members. Other bills usually originate from lawmakers' offices, and only get inputs from the executive during congressional hearings.

Deles earlier said that Aquino's personal submission of the draft law to Congress leaders "highlights the importance of the proposed legislative measure."

In a separate statement, Deles said the Philippines is facing “the dawning of a new era” in the Mindanao peace process with the submission of the Bangsamoro bill to the legislature.

“This is the farthest distance we have reached in our peace journey with the MILF, and the most significant political step we have taken in our political roadmap for the Bangsamoro,” she said.
The draft law's transmittal to Congress signals the start of another crucial stage in the peace process, when the bill will go through the legislative mill and face lawmakers' scrutiny. 

READBangsamoro peace deal: The road to 2016

Both Belmonte and Drilon have nevertheless pledged to push for the Bangsamoro law's passage. Both houses of Congress are also dominated by Aquino's allies.

Aquino also expressed confidence that the Bangsamoro bill will withstand legal scrutiny.

“Ngayong mayroon na tayong panukalang batas, matibay ang aking pananalig na sang-ayon ito sa ating Saligang Batas;  na matapat ito sa mga prinsipyo ng ating Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro; na sinasalamin nito ang ating kolektibong pagsisikap tungo sa pag-unlad na walang naiiwan,” the President said.

Appeal for swift passage

In his speech, Aquino called on lawmakers to fast-track the passage of the Bangsamoro bill.

“Sa atin naman pong Kongreso: nauunawaan namin na kailangan ninyong suriin nang mabuti ang panukalang batas na ito. Ang hiling lang namin, maipasa po sana ito sa lalong madaling panahon,” he said.

“Sa ganitong paraan po, mabibigyan natin ng sapat na oras ang ating mga kapatid na makapaghanda, at tuluyang mapalago ang ipinunla nating pagbabago sa pamamahala sa Bangsamoro,” Aquino added.

In a separate statement, government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer pointed out the “urgency” of enacting the Bangsamoro law.

“We trust that our esteemed lawmakers, cognizant of the historic import of this process, would view the submitted draft with open hearts and minds, and would take on the monumental responsibility of bringing forth the Bangsamoro with seriousness of purpose and urgency,” Ferrer said.

The President likewise enjoined the public to participate in the peace process by “transforming” negative views about Muslim Mindanao.

“Tanggapin natin nang buong-buo ang ating mga kababayang Muslim. Irespeto natin ang paniniwala at paraan ng pamumuhay ng ating mga katutubo,” Aquino said.

“Imbes na sumakay sa mga nagpapakalat ng negatibong balita at paniniwala tungkol sa Katimugan, gamitin natin ang ating talino at panahon upang lubos na maunawaan ang kasaysayan, kultura at karanasan ng mga kapwa rin natin Pilipino,” he added.

Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law


Months of wrangling
The Bangsamoro Basic Law will embody the peace agreement signed by the Philippine goverment and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March, which aims to end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.
The legislation seeks to create the Bangsamoro political entity, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It will also specify wealth- and power-sharing arrangements between the national government and the new political entity.
It took five months for the Bangsamoro bill to be crafted and finalized. An initial version of the bill was submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to Aquino's office back in May.
Aquino's legal team reportedly made revisions to the BTC's draft unacceptable to the MILF. The secessionist group's chief peace negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, even said the MILF panel will "lose face" if they accept these revisions.
The government and the MILF peace panels had to meet several times in Malaysia, Manila and Davao City to settle contentious issues. At one point, Ferrer revealed that some of the provisions in the draft law may be unconstitutional.
In late August, peace panels managed to resolve contentious issues, which Ferrer indicated stemmed from provisions on wealth and the political entity's form of government. These resolutions were contained in a second draft submitted to Aquino's office.
Last week, Aquino met with MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim—a one-on-one discussion which Malacañang said finalized the mutually acceptable draft law—KG/KBK, GMA News