The independent body that tracks the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro has expressed concerns about the delay in the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress.
“There is an ongoing, indeed increasing, uncertainty regarding the possible outcome of the legislative process concerning the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” said Third Party Monitoring Team chairman Alistair MacDonald in a letter to peace panel chairmen Miriam Coronel Ferrer of the Philippine government and Mohagher Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
MacDonald noted “concerns about the delays in the legislative process,” the “content of any BBL which might be adopted by Congress” as well as about the “continuity of the process, if indeed a BBL cannot be passed under this administration.”
MacDonald said the observations arose from its December meetings with MILF members led by Chairman Murad Ebrahim and the MILF Central Committee on the rebel side and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles on the government side, members of the House of Representatives and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.
MacDonald described as “encouraging” a meeting last Dec. 8 called by President Benigno Aquino III with “a large number of members of the House, and that thereafter the House was able to at least close the period of interpellation in the final days of its December session” despite its inability to establish a quorum over the past several months.
However, he noted that there has been no significant progress in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Rep. Martin Romualdez, a senatorial aspirant, on Sunday urged peace negotiator Ferrer to justify in full detail the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law version being pushed in Congress.
With four months before the May 9 elections, Ferrer must not rush Congress into passing a half-baked BBL that may soon be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Romualdez said.
Ferrer must ask Congress to address unresolved legal questions on the measure, Romualdez added.
He said President Aquino must not expect the House of Representatives to swiftly pass the BBL without further review, comprehensive study and scrutiny to ensure its full compliance to the Constitution.
“The more Ms. Ferrer ignores the Constitution in her attempt to have the BBL okayed, the more reason we have in Congress to scrutinize it. As a government official, Ms. Ferrer is duty-bound to help defend and uphold the Constitution at any given time. For her own sake, she had
better have an air-tight justification on why she continues to openly ignore the Charter to have the BBL passed by Congress,” he said.
“The Aquino administration is trying to ram the BBL down our throats despite its constitutional flaws. What is more important for them, the BBL or the Constitution?” Romualdez, the House independent bloc leader and Philippine Constitution Association president, said.