House senior leaders reiterated commitment to pursue peace by supporting constitutional BBL

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Feb. 13 (PNA) — House leaders reiterated on Friday their commitment to pursue peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) provided that justice is served to the “Fallen 44” of Special Action Force (SAF) and that Bangsamoro Basic law (BBL) would be legal and constitutional even if this may mean a watered-down version.

This was stressed by ABAKADA Party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong, and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III after MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told a Senate hearing the other day that a watered-down version of the BBL may not be acceptable to the Bangsamoro people.

De la Cruz, a member of the House independent bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, said the BBL should be constitutional.

“Well will just have to work out the best constitutionally acceptable law. After all, the BBL is not the end to attain peace and development in Mindanao and the entire country,” said de la Cruz.

Acop, a retired police general and comptroller during the stint of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, said peace talks are the only solution to the problems in Mindanao.

“I recommend that peace talks must always prevail. However, we cannot talk of peace without giving justice to the victims and their loved ones,” Acop said.

Even Loong, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), agreed that talking of BBL which the 75-man House ad hoc committee on the BBL indefinitely suspended is not an issue right now.

“Well to me, it is not yet time to talk about BBL because of the prevailing situation,” said Loong, the chairman of the House committee on Muslim affairs.

Albano said Congress should guarantee that the BBL should conform the Constitution.

“That’s their concern not ours. It’s part of a negotiation process, it’s a two way street, not a one-way street,” said Albano.

During the Senate hearing the other day on the Mamasapano, Iqbal said the MILF hopes that Congress will pass the BBL as crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

At the Senate hearing, Iqbal said a watered-down version of the BBL would not address the grievances of the Bangsamoro people.

Some constitutional experts stressed that the BBL would create the proposed Bangsamoro territory into a sub-state, which is not allowed under the Constitution. (PNA)