Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drilon seeks presence of ConCom members to BBL hearing

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today urged the Senate panel hearing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to invite the members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission (ConCom) to weigh in on the constitutionality of the draft law – a piece of legislation so important to government’s goal of providing lasting and genuine peace and inclusive and social development in Mindanao.

“It is our belief that the framers of the 1987 Constitution are in the best position to assess the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and determine its conformity to the vision, spirit and core principles of the Constitution they had penned nearly three decades ago,” he said of the ConCom members, who include legal luminaries and respected public figures such as former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, former Justice Adolfo Azcuna, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Christian Monsod, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, and former Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

Drilon said that it is of utmost importance that their opinion and insights are seriously considered in the crafting of the BBL in order to ensure that no provision in the Constitution will be violated and that the law will be able to fulfill the vision and spirit of the Constitution’s provision on autonomous regions.

“We want to hear their views and direct us to the weak points of the draft law, and tell us how we can rectify them. They can guide us on what needs to be done to strengthen the law against abuses,” stressed Drilon.

“Their insights and guidance is something we, legislators, need the most in order to perform our duties, most especially when it is about lasting and genuine peace and social and economic development for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” he emphasized.

The Senate leader said the 1986 ConCom members have already expressed their interest in taking part in the crafting of the BBL, making it easier for the Senate to invite them to the hearing.

In a January 9 statement, 14 of the members of the ConCom  said that “a new organic law is necessary to fulfill the vision and spirit that constitutional provisions on autonomous regions since RA 6734 and RA9054 have clearly not gone far enough to give life to the concept of autonomy for Muslim Mindanao as envisioned by the Constitution.”

They added: “The core principle of the 1987 Constitution mandating a special status for the autonomous regions is the human development of the people of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. Hence, the public conversation should not be about semantics but about people – their needs, their aspirations, their choices – and about e powering them with the environment and institutional framework for social justice.”

The Senate leader said he agreed with the ConCom members’ views that the ultimate welfare and development of the people of Mindanao should be given more focus, saying further that this can be the guiding principle in the crafting of the law.

“The establishment of the Bangsamoro government will be a significant milestone in our nation’s history as it will be formed to serve and uphold the interests of the Bangsamoro people, culture, and history,” said Drilon.

He said the Senate is working towards the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by March 2015: “We have committed to the passage of the BBL within the prescribed timeline to ensure the creation of the Bangsamoro government by the time President Aquino steps down from office.”

“We are aware of the monumental weight of this responsibility, with time bearing upon us, on top of the need to ensure the constitutionality of the law’s final form. But rest assured that the legislature is committed to bringing the success of the Bangsamoro political entity to light,” Drilon assured.

Drilon also acknowledged a strong, bipartisan support from both houses of Congress, which speaks of the high level of commitment in the diligent and urgent passage of the BBL.

“The pursuit of this rests on our shoulders right now, and I assure that we in Congress will do everything to make sure that this opportunity to create and embed peace in Mindanao will not go to waste,” concluded Drilon. 

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