Duterte to certify BBL as urgent

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to certify the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as urgent, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said Tuesday.

Zubiri told reporters in an interview that Duterte called him on Monday (January 15) through his Special Assistant President Christopher Bong Go telling him that he was indeed willing to certify the BBL as urgent.

I spoke to him (over the phone) yesterday, for the first time in two years. Tinawagan niya ako through Bong Go and nung sabi sa akin ni Bong Go kausapin ka ng Pangulo, kinausap ko siya sabi niya 'I'm in front of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and he was asking assurance from me that we will be tackling the BBL Zubiri said.

Yes, sabi niya (he said) it's his priority. I asked him to certify it and he said 'Yes, we will and he asked me to speak to (Presidential Peace Adviser) Secretary Jess Dureza for the details, he added.

Zubiri said that he informed Duterte that he had already led the first hearing on the BBL last December and was scheduled to hold the next hearing on January 23.

He revealed that the MILF previously expressed concern on the proposed BBL as it was not approved by its Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The senator, however, said that he filed on Tuesday a new measure on the creation of a BBL version which had been approved by the BTC.

Today, (Tuesday) I withdrew my original bill which is not the BTC version and filed today, Senate Bill No. 1646, a BTC-approved version so that they would come and wholeheartedly participate in the deliberations, Zubiri said.

Zubiri, meanwhile, expressed hope that the House of Representatives would also prioritize the BBL over the shift to a federal form of government.

The problem in the House of Representatives, is they have this thought that they should start with federalism. The problem is, if you start with federalism and charter change fails and we don't pass a BBL, it's going to be chaotic in Mindanao, Zubiri said.

Unahin natin ang (Let's start with the) BBL and then if federalism comes then we just adopt the Bangsamoro Autonomous Area as part of the federal state of the republic, he added.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier confirmed that Duterte wanted the Congress to enact the BBL first before pursuing Charter change.

"The President wants to enact BBL first. In his words 'It would be hard, once Charter change begins, to implement the BBL,'" Roque said.

Source: Philippine News Agency