‘Submit Bangsamoro agency’s spending report’

Posted on April 14, 2015

• P100M allotted to transition commission
• Body created in 2012 by an executive order

A senator asked the government’s peace panel to submit a liquidation of the cash already allotted to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), a body that formulated the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

During the resumption of the Senate hearing on the proposed law that will allow self-rule for Moros, Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay asked Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Q. Deles for the report on how the funds were spent.

“In the agreement, P100 million was set aside,” Ms. Deles added, pointing out that the liquidation of the money was documented.

Under Executive Order No. 120 signed by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in 2012, the BTC was to receive an initial budget amounting to P100 million.

During the same hearing on Monday, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. allotted more than half of the time inquiring about the real name of MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

At one point, Mr. Iqbal said he owns a bank account under his pseudonym. He also admitted getting compensation from the Philippine government as part of the BTC.

Criminal charges vs MILF

At the House of Representatives, the 75-member House ad hoc panel on the BBL is anticipating the filing of criminal charges against those involved in the Mamasapano debacle, including several MILF members.

“I am waiting for the DoJ (Department of Justice) to file criminal cases of murder,” committee chairman and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (3rd district) told reporters yesterday. “I expect the MILF to be charged, based on the findings of the BoI (Board of Inquiry), Senate, and of what I know that happened.”

Earlier, the surrender of the Moro fighters involved in the Jan. 25 clash was one of three “confidence-building measures” set by government to restore trust in the MILF and in the proposed law. The other two are the return of firearms taken from the fallen cops and the MILF’s aid in capturing Abdul Basit Usman.

During last week’s House probe on the incident, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima assured lawmakers that persons will be charged once state probers complete their investigation on the Mamasapano clash on Thursday.

Iqbal Alias a non-issue

Mr. Iqbal’s use of an alias would have no effect on the BBL, Mr. Rodriguez said, though the MILF negotiator could face criminal charges for signing public documents with a fake name.

“The bill is the one being scrutinized, not Iqbal. It is a non-issue as far as the BBL is concerned,” Mr. Rodriguez said, adding that the 122-page draft law is treated as a House bill authored by Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. and fellow legislators.

Mr. Rodriguez, a lawyer, added to say that the seven documents which Mr. Iqbal signed prior to the crafting of the BBL -- which includes the framework agreement inked in 2012 -- could merit him jail time and fines under the country’s laws.

He cited the country’s anti-alias law and criminal code which prohibit the use of fake names in signing formal documents, along with the possibility that the agreements signed may be rendered invalid.

The House of Representatives will resume its BBL discussions on April 20. -- Melissa Luz T. Lopez with Jauhn Etienne Villaruel