Gov’t set on creating Bangsamoro entity by 2016 despite delays

Posted on December 01, 2014

DELAYS in the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will not affect the government’s timetable of establishing a new political entity in Mindanao by 2016, a Palace official said yesterday.

Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma, Jr. made the announcement as the House of Representatives said it will be unable to meet its self-imposed deadline to pass the measure by yearend.

Based on the government’s timetable, there is still “enough time” to conduct the plebiscite by 2015 and hold elections for the officials that will head the new government by 2016, in sync with the national poll, even if Congress approves the measure in the first quarter of next year, Mr. Coloma said in a radio interview aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

“What we’re really looking at in the timetable is the May 2016 date where we target to hold the elections. What we just hope is that there be enough window in the transition between the Bangsamoro Transitional Assembly and the new officials after the elections. Right now, we still have more than a year and a half before 2016 that’s why we’re not really worried that it would affect the whole process,” he said.

Malacañang’s earlier timetable set the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law by yearend, conduct of plebiscite in 2015, and elections, in time for the national polls in 2016.

The Executive had also failed to submit the draft Bangsamoro bill to the House of Representatives as scheduled last May 5 after both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels scrambled to iron out the contents of the draft law to come at a “mutually-acceptable” version, which, at the same time, falls within the confines of the 1987 Constitution.

News reports quoted House Majority Leader Neptali M. Gonzales as saying the House could start plenary debates on the proposed Bangsamoro Law in the first quarter of next year, as the draft law “is still with the special committee chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd district), which has been conducting public hearings on the proposal and is expected to submit their report in “January or February.”

The Bangsamoro Basic Law -- which will reflect the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro inked between the government and the MILF last March 27 -- will speed up the process of creating the autonomous region as part of a peace process to end decades of fighting that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will formalize the creation of a new Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). -- Imee Charlee C. Delavin