Alvarez: BTC needs more time to study amendments to BBL

MANILA The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has asked for more time to study the proposed amendments to the bill seeking to provide for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said.

"May mga proposal yung GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) [peace panel] at yung BTC asked for three days para makapag-usap sila (The GRP has proposals, and the BTC asked for three days in order to discuss these)," Alvarez said in an ambush interview on Tuesday following a closed-door meeting with the said parties.

Alvarez is optimistic that the issues or concerns about the provisions of the proposed law would be resolved.

"Tingin ko naman mukhang magkakaayos (I think we could reach an agreement)," he said.

He also expressed confidence that the House could meet its deadline for the BBL's passage before Congress adjourns sine die on May 31.

"Aabot yan, basta aabot (We could meet the deadline, definitely)," Alvarez stressed.

Alvarez earlier said he would ask President Rodrigo R. Duterte to certify the bill as urgent.

The House committee on Muslim affairs, voting 27-3; committee on local government, voting 32-3; and the special committee on peace, unity and reconciliation, voting 27-3, approved the committee report on House Bill 6475 or the BBL.

Authored by Alvarez, HB 6475 provides for the BBL and seeks the abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The bill is based on the proposal submitted by the BTC to Duterte.

It aims to establish a political entity, provide for its basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for a meaningful self-governance.

Under the bill, the Bangsamoro territory shall remain a part of the Philippines.

The Bangsamoro territory shall be composed of the following: 1) the present geographical area of the ARMM; 2) the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagolan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; 3) the cities of Cotabatao and Isabela; and 4) all other contiguous areas where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.

The measure also retains the central government's power and control over defense and external issue.

The central government shall create a Bangsamoro Military Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the Bangsamoro, which shall be organized, maintained, and utilized in accordance with national laws.

A Bangsamoro Police, under the Philippine National Police, shall also be created for law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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