OPAPP hopes to start work on new Bangsamoro law in January

Written by Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza is hoping to begin in January 2017 formal work on a new law that will create the Bangsamoro region to implement the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Dureza said President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to finally name in January the 21 individuals who will make up the new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the panel that will draft the proposal that will be submitted to Congress.

WAITING FOR THE NAMES. Photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim during the signing of the executive order creating the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Council on November 7, 2016. OPAPP file photo

WAITING FOR THE NAMES. Photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim during the signing of the executive order creating the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Council on November 7, 2016. OPAPP file photo

“By January, baka lalabas na ang appointment ng pangulo (the president is expected to appoint the members),” Dureza said.

Dureza said the Bangsamoro Basic Law that failed to pass in the previous 16th Congress will "probably be the basic document, among other pertinent legislations, of the new enabling law."

Address constitutionality issues

Lawmakers who opposed the bill argued that the draft violates the constitution by allocating too much power to the new region, a claim that the members of the BTC then denied. Duterte is now proposing a shift to federalism to allow the new region to have those powers.

“Napag-aralan na rin ang old BBL, hindi lang napasa dahil may dumating na Mamasapano [incident], which put doubts on the level of trust in the talks. There are also issues about constitutionality pero may sectors na nagsasabi na constitutionally-compliant naman ang mgaprovisions na ‘yan. So, all of these will be taken noted," Dureza said.

(The old BBL already underwent scrutiny but failed to be passed because of the Mamasapano incident, which put doubts on the level of trust in the talks. There were also issues on its constitutionality, but there are sectors affirming that the old BBL is constitutionally-compliant)

Deadline: July 2017

The BTC is expected to submit a draft to Congress before Duterte's State of the Nation Address in July 2017.

Duterte signed Executive Order no. 8 on November 7 to overhaul the BTC under the previous Aquino administration.

The BTC was expanded from 15 to 21 members to accommodate more stakeholders, an attempt to "bring together all key peace actors and stakeholders in the implementation of all Bangsamoro accords."

The new 21-member panel will have 11 members appointed by the MILF and 10 members appointed by the government.

The panel will include representatives from one faction of the MILF rival group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Muslimin Sema.

The indigenous peoples, sultanates, local government units, and the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will also be represented at the BTC.

Duterte has also persuaded the MNLF faction led by its founder Nur Misuari to support the peace process but it will not join the BTC. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) will have a separate peace table to address Misuari's concerns. (READ: 2 separate panels for MILF, MNLF-Nur)

Misuari's faction was responsible for the 2013 Zamboanga Siege that protested the peace process with the MILF. Misuari, who is facing rebellion charges, was granted temporary liberty to join the peace talks. – Rappler.com

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