Bangsamoro in 16th Congress agenda

Posted on February 08, 2013

THE PROPOSED law that will create the Bangsamoro region will be among the priorities of the 16th Congress, a lawmaker yesterday said.

"For one, we have to work on the amendment of the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) charter because the framework agreement and the peace agreement that we will sign will require extensive amendments," said Senator Franklin M. Drilon in a press conference a day after Congress adjourned to allow lawmakers to prepare for the midterm elections on May 13.

"That will be the major work at least for the first year of the next Congress," the lawmaker added.

The 15th Congress will end its third and final session on June 7. The 16th Congress, meanwhile, will convene on July 22.

A law is needed to create the Bangsamoro and to repeal Republic Act No. 6734 or the Organic Act which created the ARMM.

The Transition Commission created under Executive Order 120 will draft the Bangsamoro law and will submit the same to Congress. The law will be submitted to a referendum in the inclusive areas.

The Bangsamoro will cover Isabela City in Basilan, Cotabato City, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and some villages in North Cotabato, in addition to the five provinces in ARMM, namely, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Last October, Moro Islamic Liberation Front leaders, headed by its chairman Murad Ebrahim witnessed the signing in Malacañang of a plan preparatory to a final peace pact.

Government and Moro negotiators are finalizing key annexes on wealth and power sharing and decommissioning of rebel forces that will be embodied in the peace agreement.

On the other hand, the issue of amending the Constitution, Mr. Drilon said, "as we talk now, it is not part of agenda of PNoy (President Benigno S. C. Aquino III)."

Congress leaders in July last year expressed interest in introducing Charter changes, particularly on the economic provisions that were deemed as restrictive to business and investments. -- K. M. P. Tubadeza