Duterte, Congress to receive final Bangsamoro Basic Law draft

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — The Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) has approved the final draft of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) for submission to President Rodrigo Duterte and eventually to Congress.

"I am pleased to report that the Bangsamoro peace process is on track. The Bangsamoro Transition Commission approved the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law on Tuesday, June 6," Government Implementing Panel Chair for the Bangsamoro Irene Santiago said on Thursday.

"The draft is going to be submitted to the Office of the President...so we're looking at June 13 or 14 as a matter of fact. We hope that when Congress resumes, that this is submitted...either on the 24th or the 25th," Santiago said.

READ: GPH peace panel: Bangsamoro Basic Law draft to be ready by mid-June

She added the BTC is hoping Duterte will certify the bill as urgent during his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

"We are hoping and planning that the President will mention [it] in the SONA and say 'This is a priority bill for me," Santiago added.

The BBL was first submitted to the Aquino administration in 2014. It aims to establish a new region for the Bangsamoro, a collective term for the Filipino Muslims, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The proposed law was the result of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro—a peace deal signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The BBL failed to pass the 16th Congress when it adjourned in February 2016, leaving the peace panel to tweak provisions to the law and repeat the legislative process.

Santiago said the finalized and "better version" of the draft is based on the original BBL, with provisions and inputs from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Muslimin Sema and Yusoph Jikiri.

"There were 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and ten were nominated by government. Sa ten na yon, three are members of the MNLF, Sema-Jikiri faction. So there was input from the MNLF Sema-Jikiri faction doon sa bagong draft ng BBL," Santiago said.

READ: 21 members of expanded Bangsamoro transition body named

Among the BBL critics is Nur Misuari, leader of an MNLF faction. Santiago said Misuari's group is handled by a separate panel led by Peace Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan.

Misuari is facing charges of graft with the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as rebellion for the MNLF's hand in the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

Santiago added the new BBL draft will incorprate provisions for better transition to the new region.

"The MILF has said this time and time again, that this is going to be a Bangsamoro Transition Authority, so it is going to be inclusive as well," she said.

Earlier, Santiago told CNN Philippines' The Source that the BBL will address the root cause of extremism in Mindanao.

Santiago said "passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law is very important to stopping extremism in this country."

"One of the fundamental needs of a human being - of any group - is acceptance of identity," said Santiago. "A caliphate is something that is a dream... it's all part of identity, belonging, also the need to be part of decision-making."