Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been pushing for the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) but on Tuesday, December 19, the chief executive expressed doubt that the measure will be passed by Congress.
In a speech after signing the tax reform program and 2018 national budget into law, Duterte admitted that he doesn’t think the proposed BBL can “hurdle constitutional barriers.”
“I do not think that it will hurdle constitutional — binabasa ko paulit-ulit (I’m reading it again and again) — the constitutional barriers,” Duterte said, without specifying which provisions of the proposed BBL will violate the Constitution.
The BBL was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which include representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The proposed measure aims to abolish the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and replace it with Bangsamoro Region that will enjoy fiscal autonomy. It will also serve as the completion of the peace process with the Moro rebels.
Warning that the Moros will likely go to war if it failed to get nod from Congress, Duterte then urged to lawmakers to think of ways on how to free the proposed BBL from unconstitutional provisions.
“Pero kung di natin ibibigay ‘yan (But if we don’t give it), kindly help me think of ways on how to do it kasi (because) the other choice is — if we go to war, it opens the floodgates of Mindanao to everybody else,” the president said.
In a separate statement, Duterte urged the MILF and MNLF to not raise arms if the proposed BBL does not pass legal scrutiny.
“To my brothers in MI, MN, let us continue talking because both of these entities are for peace. As to how wide the concession we will give is something which has to be discussed,” he remarked in a speech during the birthday celebration of Senator Manny Pacquiao on Sunday, December 17.
Duterte continued, “But if it does not hurdle Congress, do not draw your guns right away. We still can talk and maybe explore other areas. But I assure you that during my term, it will be addressed.”
Passing the proposed BBL has been among Duterte’s campaign promises.
Last month, the House of Representatives also vowed to pass the measure before Congress adjourns in March next year.