World Bulletin / News Desk
A panel of the Philippines' House of Representatives approved Wednesday a measure formalizing the creation of a southern Bangsamoro political region as part of a peace process with the country’s one-time largest Islamic group.
Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), announced that 50 members had voted in favor of the proposed legislation. Another 17 voted against the draft while one abstained after two-day marathon hearings in which each provision was voted on, GMA News reported.
The BBL, which will replace the controversial Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new parliamentary entity for the indigenous Moro people, is a top priority of the government of President Benigno Aquino III.
The original draft BBL was an offshoot of an agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March last year after 17 years of negotiations to end a 45-year conflict that has killed around 120,000 people.
The draft approved by the ad hoc committee, however, is a version finalized after weekend meetings between Aquino and House leaders.
It is now set to be debated by a joint committee on appropriations and ways and means – which will figure out specifics on funding its implementation – before its expected introduction to the whole House next week.
Meanwhile, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has thanked House lawmakers for putting time and effort into debates on the legislation.
"We are almost there. Today, the ad Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives has spoken for peace for the Bangsamoro,” he said in a statement.
Adding that there had been amendments to the draft, he expressed hope they would contribute to the law.
"This is a great step towards the goal of achieving a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao. This is a great step towards the self-determination we have long been fighting for,” he said.
Hataman added that while the BBL had been much debated and was “reviled” by some – including those who had not read it – Muslim Mindanao was ready for the law, expected to build the foundations of peace, security and progress.
He urged lawmakers in the Senate to take their cue from the House and “take the BBL into the homestretch."
"This is a race of hope, a race for peace. When the finish line is crossed, we, not just the Bangsamoro but the entire country, will all be winners," he said.
Passing the law by June is crucial as the country is gearing up for the 2016 elections.
According to media reports earlier this month, Senate President Franklin Drilon did not provide a clear commitment to finish BBL deliberations before Congress adjourns the second regular session June 11.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mayıs 2015, 16:11