PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday, Sept. 20, certified as urgent the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the legislative priorities identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) which met that night.

The proposed BBL was not part of the 28 measures in the Common Legislative Agenda approved by the LEDAC Full Council on Aug. 29. But Mr. Duterte, chair of the council, had assured the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that the BBL will be given “highest priority” among those measures.

The BBL is the outcome of peace negotiations between the MILF and the government, particularly under the previous administration of Benigno S.C. Aquino III. The draft law aims to establish for Muslims in Mindanao a new autonomous region, with the aim of developing its economic potential.

Mr. Duterte received a new draft of the BBL on July 17, amid a LEDAC meeting that time. Two months later, Mr. Duterte, together with other officials including the top leaders of Congress, Senate President Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, met with chairman Mohagher Igbal of the MILF peace panel to discuss the BBL.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas, for his part, said in a text message to House reporters on Thursday, “We will file next week the bill for the BBL submitted by the BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission). The President informed us that he will leave to the wisdom of the Congress the final version of the BBL.”

At Wednesday night’s meeting, LEDAC also tackled the tax reform program being pushed by Mr. Duterte’s administration of which a Senate version was readied on Tuesday for that chamber’s approval.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), for its part, in a statement on Wednesday called for “the crafting of a road map, aligned with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017–2022, for the Philippines’ possible transition to a federal type of government.”

The statement, citing a speech on Tuesday by NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon quoted her as saying that federalism is a “long-term endeavor requiring a sustained commitment.”

The BBL is assumed to be a component of the federal system if approved in a plebiscite. — Rosemarie A. Zamora