Saturday, March 29, 2014

Drilon vows: Bangsamoro Basic Law to stay within Constitution

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law must “supremely respect” the Philippine Constitution, as he vowed to take the forefront in congressional efforts to preserve and guard the nation’s sovereignty amid the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity in southern Mindanao.

Drilon made it clear after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that national sovereignty will be the premiere concern of Congress as they prepare to work on the Bangsamoro Basic Law –which they consider as a legislative priority.

The Senate chief also said that President Aquino will play a big role in pushing the bill forward: “I expect the President to certify it as an administration concern and subsequently certify it as an urgent measure. But more importantly, I expect him to use his political capital as he has used in several crucial legislative matters, when he has perceived they are for the good of the country and of the Filipino people.”

“I expect the President to take a personal stake at this peace process for the Filipino people because this will be his legacy. I believe that the final peace agreement in Mindanao will be among the legacies of President Noynoy Aquino,” he stressed.

Drilon emphasized: “I will be at the forefront in seeing that our sovereignty is respected. I don’t think that the Filipino people will forgive us if we rescind any part of our sovereignty. We must remain as one country, and one nation – as one Filipino people.”

“I am determined to see that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be a policy for harmony and shared development. As long as I am here, it will not be an instrument of capitulation, nor it will be an affront to our constitutional integrity,” he stressed.

In 2008, the former Executive and Justice Secretary was the leading voice of opposition towards the aborted GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which legal experts and political observers criticized to be of dubious constitutionality, and that it would have led to further political schism and security breakdown.   

With the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Drilon acknowledged that questions on the Constitution will take center stage: “While we must give the Constitution its most liberal application, we have to make sure that the basic law must be a unifying and integrating legislation, and not a divisive one.”

The senator believes that their vigilance on the issue is their due responsibility as citizens and lawmakers of the republic: “Whether Moro or Christian, we are all Filipinos. And therefore, it is our moral and legal obligation to preserve our country as one. And that is going to be my guiding principle at this matter.”

“It will not be an easy task – as we say, “The Devil is in the details.” I expect a lot of debates in the Congress,” he further noted.

Earlier, Drilon urged his colleagues to take an active role in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and passionately debate on the most pertinent issues about the peace accord.

“We cannot afford to err on this most-sought piece of legislation which seeks to put an end to the decades-long insurgency. It is therefore incumbent upon us to make sure that the efforts exerted by both panels will not be put in vain, by ensuring that the Bangsamoro Law falls within the four corners of the Constitution and one that can withstand judicial scrutiny,” he said.

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