House to harmonize 4 Bangsamoro Basic Law bills

MANILA -- A joint committee in the House of Representatives has formed a sub-committee to draw up a working draft bill that will harmonize all four bills proposing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

According to a statement on Friday, the House committee on local government, committee on Muslim affairs, and committee on peace, reconciliation, and unity approved the creation of a sub-committee to be chaired by Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Wee Palma II.

At least three members from the three mother committees will form part of the sub-committee.

The sub-committee will be tasked to consolidate House Bill (HB) 6575 by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez; 92 by Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema; 6121 by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and 6263 by Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo.

The four bills all seek to provide the autonomous region of Mindanao more flexibility, a wider range of authority in politics, economy, and finance.

The proposed BBL will signal the creation of the Bangsamoro government that is parliamentary in structure, to be managed by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

South Cotabato Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr., committee on local government chair, said while the bills are specific to the quest for autonomy of Muslim Mindanao, it can have a significant impact on the economy, finance and politics of the whole country.

This is to accord the people in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao the opportunity to chart their own future within the ambit of our constitution, Acharon added.

Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali, committee on peace, reconciliation, and unity chair, said the BBL's passage is essential to address the decades-long Bangsamoro conflict and help achieve peace and development in Mindanao.

Let us make sure that the law we're going to legislate will be all-inclusive, meaning all the peoples' rights within the Bangsamoro will be upheld, our dignity and cultures will be preserved and will remain intact, Sahali said.

For his part, Lanao del Sur Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, committee on Muslim affairs chair, said the proposed BBL would help the Bangsamoro people achieve a "genuine and meaningful governance in self-determination based on their distinct historical identity and their ancestral homeland."

House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas earlier said there is no need to hold a special session to tackle the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as the lower chamber aims for the bill's passage by March 21.

"With respect to the BBL, the Speaker (Pantaleon Alvarez) has given his commitment to the President that we will finish it before we adjourn on March 21," FariAas said in an ambush interview.

FariAas said the House committees will be conducting public consultations in the involved areas and affected stakeholders. The three House committees handling the BBL are the local government, peace and reconciliation, and Muslim affairs.

"The committee has set a schedule to go around the involved areas and stakeholders... Kung mag-special session, hindi naman namin pwedeng i-compress lahat ng schedule na iyun, (If there's a special session, we can't compress all the schedule)," he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency