Bangsamoro watch: House joint committee adopts BTC version

by Fil V. Elefante

President Rodrigo Duterte (center) holds the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) together with (from left) Secretary Jesus Dureza, government Peace Panel chief negotiator; Al-Hajj Murad, chair, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice-chair; and Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Peace Panel chair during a July ceremony at Malacanang Palace. The draft BBL will be submitted for approval by the Philippine Congress and for ratification through a plebiscite. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

One major stumbling block to getting the draft bills for the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed was hurdled last week in the House of Representatives.

The moment came when the House committees on local government, Muslim affairs and peace, reconciliation and unity met for a special executive session.

According to reports, the House committees on Muslim affairs and peace, reconciliation and unity voted for adopting the draft Bangsamoro bill prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which was sponsored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

With a vote of 2-1, the House joint committee handling the Bangsamoro bill adopted the BTC version of the bill.

This action allayed the fear aired by Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

He warned that the MILF would not accept a “watered-down version” Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The latest development at the House of Representatives about the Bangsamoro issue also confirmed the MILF chairman’s claim that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now a representative of her congressional district in Pampanga will withdraw her version of the Bangsamoro bill in favor of the BTC version.

Arroyo’s withdrawal of her version of the Bangsamoro bill was announced during the executive session of the House joint committee, just as MILF leader stated the week before it occurred.

The executive session held by the House joint committee also strengthened the assurance President Rodrigo Duterte gave to the MILF leader.

According to the MILF leader, the President’s support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law was “steadfast.”

Last April 2, the President said in Sultan Kudarat that he was “racing against time.”

“The MILF is in a hurry and has placed on us the burden of a timeline. And I have agreed to that period,” the President said.

The MILF leader said that his organization was “generally satisfied” with how the Senate was handling the Bangsamoro bill. However, deliberations for the adoption of the BTC draft bill on the Bangsamoro has yet to be completed.

House and Senate leaders along with the President and the MILF chairman believe the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed by May 30. If this happens, then the President can include this in his list of successes in his upcoming State of the Nation Address this July.





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