Aquino to turnover Bangsamoro bill to Congress on Wednesday

President Benigno S. Aquino III and His Excellency Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, witness as Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor signs in the Palace guest book at the Reception Hall of the Malacañan Palace for the Prime Minister’s Working Visit to the Philippines and to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday (March 27).

President Benigno S. Aquino III and His Excellency Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, witness as Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor signs in the Palace guest book at the Reception Hall of the Malacañan Palace for the Prime Minister’s Working Visit to the Philippines and to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday (March 27).

MANILA (Mabuhay) – After delays and controversies, the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law will finally be submitted to Congress on Wednesday.

President Benigno Aquino III confirmed that the bill was almost done and ready for filing at the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said the draft bill only needs “cleaning up.”

Deles, who was with Aquino during the launch of the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program, said there will be a turnover ceremony at Malacañang on Wednesday.

“The leaders and our expected champions in Congress will be going to Malacañang and the President has decided he will personally endorse the draft to Congress,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator on Monday said he is optimistic the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will survive Congress.

“I am convinced the draft BBL will be passed by Congress,” Mohaqher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, told Church-run DXMS Radyo Bida Monday morning.

“The draft bill was refined for good, I believed,” he said of the Malacañang-reviewed draft law.

Iqbal said the MILF is patiently waiting for the transmittal of the Malacañang reviewed draft law to the House of Representatives.

Iqbal also said that once it reaches Congress, the draft BBL should be made public for healthy discussion.

“If it reaches Congress, it becomes a pubic document and I am in favor of making it accessible to the public for transparency,” Iqbal said.

“This is for healthy and educational discussion,” Iqbal, also chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that crafted the BBL, added.

Iqbal said the MILF relies on the wisdom of Malacañang and the legislators.

“We remain hopeful but we are not certain as of yet until it happens (draft bill submitted to Congress),” he said.

“Maraming (So many) obstacles along the way, but we remain optimistic. We rely on the wisdom of our lawmakers, I am convinced it will be approved by Congress,” Iqbal said.

President Aquino is tentatively scheduled to embark on the five-nation official visit to Europe and the US from September 13 to 24 to promote trade and bilateral relations among European nations and attend the United Nations Climate Summit 2014 at the UN headquarters in New York City.

His last foreign travel was Japan in June where he met briefly, for the second time, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chieftain Al Mohammad Murad.

Iqbal also said his peace panel is ready to sit down with Congress to defend the draft bill.

“My appeal is for everybody to support the draft BBL, this is a formula for peace and development in Mindanao, for Muslims, Christians, and highlanders,” the visibly optimistic Iqbal said.

“It’s amazing,” he said of the current draft law. “This is not about independence, it’s about peace and development,” Iqbal said. (MNS)

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