THE 75-man ad hoc panel formed to scrutinize the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is expected to pass an amended version next week.
“We are going to have the voting on May 11 and 12. All the members of the ad-hoc committee will be there. I believe that the dream to have lasting peace in Mindanao will be achieved through the BBL,” said Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the ad hoc panel.
Rodriguez said the BBL minus the contentious provisions would face smooth sailing during plenary voting in the third week of May.
“We are going to remove at least eight provisions that are unconstitutional and we’re going to make sure that we will be able to bring this to the plenary on May 18,” he said.
The approved bill would be sent to Senate by the first week of June so that both chambers of Congress could vote on the version approved by the bicameral conference committee on or before June 30, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he was optimistic that an overwhelming number of House members would vote to pass the BBL without the eight problematic provisions.
He added that voting down the BBL was not the way to punish the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose fighters joined in the Mamasapano massacre of 44 police commandos.
“If we are going to punish MILF, we will punish them, but if we don’t approve the BBL we will punish the entire Muslim community in our country,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the MILF had a mixed record of complying with confidence-building measures that Congress had sought.
They did turn over 16 of the firearms taken from the slain police commandos, and hepled the government hunt down bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman. However, it has consistently refused to surrender its fighters who were involved in the Mamasapano incident.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano on Thursday urged the Justice Department to speed up the filing of criminal charges against the MILF members who took part in the massacre.
He also urged the MILF to show its sincerity by surrending its men accused of murder.
The presidential adviser on the peace process Tereista Deles said the government and the Bangsamoro people were unwavering in their quest for peace in Mindanao, and would continue to push for the passage of the BBL.
In a dinner hosted last Tuesday by the Swiss embassy for the visiting Cartoonists for Peace, Deles said the Filipino people have reached a crossroad where they have to make up their minds.
“Some people are saying we cannot make a leap of faith. But I think taking a leap of faith is a better way to go than returning to our dark and divided past,” Deles said.
Deles cited the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF, which has been disrupted by the Mamasapano massacre.
“I believe, the Filipino people, having passed through all these, will make the right choice here. We will complete this dream. We will make sure that our future generation will not suffer the fate
of those of have experienced the horrors of war,” said Deles, who has blamed the police for failing to coordinate with the MILF in its law enforcement operation in Mamasapano.