By Francis Wakefield
The bicameral conference for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) began Monday as lawmakers work to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the law at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria.
Nine Senators and 18 members of the House of Representatives compose the bicameral conference committee that will resolve the varying provisions of the House Bill 6475 and Senate Bill 1717.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza and deputy presidential peace adviser Nabil Tan are also present in the meeting.
In a statement, Guiamel Alim, chairperson of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said enacting a BBL that “addresses the root causes of the conflict and provides for meaningful autonomy is not only good for the Bangsamoro, it is also an opportunity for the Philippine government to show that it is able to address violent conflicts, such as that in Mindanao, through diplomatic means.”
Meanwhile, BTC Commissioner Maisara Damdamun-Latiph called on the lawmakers to strengthen the BBL on the following components:
- Fiscal autonomy by removing the conditions in the block grant, making it at par with the IRA of LGUs;
- Proper allocation of powers in accordance with CAB and not less than ARMM;
- Stronger policing in relation to normalization and decommissioning;
- Inland waters like Lake Lanao in relation to preservation, conservation, power generation, and regulation; and
- Territory on the plebiscite of 6 municipalities of Lanao del Sur and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in accordance with CAB, and;
- Bangsamoro identity.
The BBL was aggressively pushed by the previous Aquino administration, but its plethora of unconstitutional provisions coupled by the unfortunate January 2015 Mamasapano, Maguindanao siege doomed its passage.
To make the BBL successful, Dureza earlier challenged the Moro people to take an active role in the peace-building process.
Congressional leaders have earlier said the BBL is expected to be signed into law by President Duterte in time for his third SONA.