PASAY CITY, Philippines – The 28-member of the bicameral conference committee approved on Wednesday night (July 18) the reconciled version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was renamed, Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
This was after the bicameral panel concluded its debates on the most contentious provisions of the House and Senate versions on the region’s territorial jurisdiction.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which would have a regional government, a parliament, and justice system as well as a greater fiscal autonomy that would allow an independent budget management. Up to P70B in block grant would be given to the Bangsamoro Region from the national government.
Awaiting a regional plebiscite, the proposed region would be composed of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
It also seeks to include six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro, only if the province and their municipalities vote for inclusion.
Meanwhile, chartered cities of Cotabato and Isabela would also be included, also pending a plebiscite.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri accepted the Bangsamoro bill on the part of the Senate followed by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas for the Lower House. After both legislators signaled the acceptance of the measure, celebrations erupted in the room.
“They can now also convince the extremist yung mga nagiisip na mga manggugulo doon. Sila na mismo ang MILF, MNLF ngayon ay partners ng gobyerno in convincing population not to join extremism,” said Zubiri.
“This may be not a perfect law, but this is good to start with,” exclaimed MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday (July 19) said President Rodrigo Duterte can sign the BOL “anytime” as soon as he receives the consolidated version.
President Duterte may also opt to sign the proposed measure into law hours before his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo