PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

NPC's BACKING OF BBL CONSTITUTES SUPPORT, SAY PALACE


Presidential Secretary Coloma The Palace yesterday drummed up the support of the National Peace Council (NPC), the members of which are handpicks of President Aquino, as constituting public support for the passage of the unpopular Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. cited the NPC’s findings as basis to claim the alleged “emerging public sentiment” for the BBL.
The discussion on the measure at the Senate will resume today.“Our expectations are high that the call of the President and the emerging public sentiment, where there is growing support and agreement for this (BBL), will be heeded,” Coloma said.“If we can remember, the NPC, which had discussions in the past weeks, faced the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on the BBL and expressed their support for this because it will establish economic development and social justice in Mindanao,” he added. The NPC, through retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., assured the House that the draft BBL was faithful to the Constitution amid fears that it would create a substate for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Davide last week sought to ease fears of legislators that the draft BBL contained provisions that would violate the Constitution. Also, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, who spoke for peace council member Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, said that it would be “foolish” to discard the BBL and start the peace process all over again. Opposed to the call of the NPC were majority of Mindanao residents. In a poll conducted by Pulse Asia, opposition to the BBL reached an overwhelming 62 percent of respondents. According to Pulse Asia, majority of the respondents were from Mindanao while for the entire country a substantial 44 percent opposed the measure, higher than those who expressed ambivalence (36 percent) and agreement (21 percent) to the BBL. READ MORE...

ALSO: AFP congratulates MILF for Usman kill, bares photo


In this March 2015 photo, Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. leads the ceremonial turnover and blessing of 31 AUVs to the different units of the military. Catapang on Monday, May 4, 2015 confirmed the death of notorios bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman. AFP-PIO   Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. congratulated the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government troops as he confirmed the death of terrorist-bomber Abdul Basit Usman on Monday.
"I want to convey my warm congratulations to the MILF and the government forces—both the AFP and the [Philippine National Police] who worked together in neutralizing this notorious terrorist," Catapang said in a press conference. Catapang also said that the development shows the MILF's sincerity in the peace process with government. An MILF band under a Commander Marlboro killed Usman at 11:30 a.m. at the adjoining towns of Guindulungan and Datu Saudi in Maguindanao, said senior officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  Usman, who was linked to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, was responsible for the countless deaths of civilians in a series of bombings in Mindanao the past years. READ MORE...

ALSO: Lawmakers meet today on passing BBL by June


The House and Senate leaders are set to meet today to determine whether or not they will be able to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before Congress’ sine die adjournment on June 11. Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II said the congressional leaders will decide on the fate of the BBL, which has turned into an “election issue.”  “In fact, tomorrow magmi-meet ulit kami, kung maipapasa namin ang BBL. We should do that before we adjourn sine die nitong June. Because we both realized na ‘pag umabot na yan doon sa last session ng 16th Congress, talagang mahirap na ’yan. Dahil kasi nga, it becomes… not only sa marami sa amin controversial yan but it now becomes an election issue,” he said in a radio interview. Every first Monday of the month, congressional leaders regularly meet to discuss the status of their legislative priorities. Gonzales even expressed concern that once the budget season comes, the plenary approval of the BBL may be affected. He appealed to his colleagues to religiously attend the plenary session to keep the legislative mill grinding and pass their priority measures. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino receives citizens' peace council report on Bangsamoro Law


The Peace Council on the Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted their report to President Aquino on May 4, 2015 during a meeting in Malacañang Palace. In photo, from left to right: The President with Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., Former Ambassador Howard Dee, Ms. Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, and His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo. Malacañang Photo Bureau
 The multi-sectoral, Palace-backed citizens' peace council on Monday submitted its report on the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to President Benigno Aquino III. The peace council submitted the report and discussed its findings with Aquino during a meeting at the Palace. Members of the peace council who turned over the report to the president were former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., former Ambassador Howard Dee, Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo. Composed of several prominent civil society and business leaders, the peace council was formed by Aquino following the Mamasapano incident to review the BBL and submit recommendations to the Senate and the House of Representatives. READ MORE...

ALSO EARLIER REPORT: Congress to pass BBL in June; ; Lawmakers to modify provisions deemed unconstitutional 


POWERHOUSE MEETING Senate and House leaders meet at Club Filipino to map out their legislative work in the first half of this year, including the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by June 30. Among those present were Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo (second from left), Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II (third from left), Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (fourth from left), Senate President Franklin Drilon (center), Sen. Ralph Recto (fourth from right) and Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (third from right). CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday agreed to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by June. “Our consensus is that we target to pass it by the end of the second regular session of the 16th Congress, which is June,” Drilon said in a telephone interview. The second regular session of the 16th Congress ends on June 12. Drilon, who proposed the new deadline to Belmonte, acknowledged that passing the draft BBL before Congress adjourns on March 21 for Holy Week was no longer possible. “We can’t pass it in March,” he said, adding that passing it in June was “doable.”  Drilon said it was premature to say if the Senate could muster the number of votes required to pass the draft BBL by that time. Belmonte said trying to enact the BBL would be an uphill effort for both houses of Congress after the Jan. 25 clash in which 44 police commandos were killed in fighting with Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Palace: NPC’s backing of BBL constitutes public support

MANILA,
MAY 4, 2015 (TRIBUNE) Written by Joshua L. Labonera Monday, 04 May 2015 00:00


Presidential Secretary Coloma

The Palace yesterday drummed up the support of the National Peace Council (NPC), the members of which are handpicks of President Aquino, as constituting public support for the passage of the unpopular Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. cited the NPC’s findings as basis to claim the alleged “emerging public sentiment” for the BBL.

The discussion on the measure at the Senate will resume today.

“Our expectations are high that the call of the President and the emerging public sentiment, where there is growing support and agreement for this (BBL), will be heeded,” Coloma said.

“If we can remember, the NPC, which had discussions in the past weeks, faced the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on the BBL and expressed their support for this because it will establish economic development and social justice in Mindanao,” he added.

The NPC, through retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., assured the House that the draft BBL was faithful to the Constitution amid fears that it would create a substate for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Davide last week sought to ease fears of legislators that the draft BBL contained provisions that would violate the Constitution.

Also, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, who spoke for peace council member Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, said that it would be “foolish” to discard the BBL and start the peace process all over again.

Opposed to the call of the NPC were majority of Mindanao residents. In a poll conducted by Pulse Asia, opposition to the BBL reached an overwhelming 62 percent of respondents.

According to Pulse Asia, majority of the respondents were from Mindanao while for the entire country a substantial 44 percent opposed the measure, higher than those who expressed ambivalence (36 percent) and agreement (21 percent) to the BBL.

READ  MORE...
Coloma said the President is still convinced that Congress will pass the BBL soon.

He maintained that the BBL will be key to completing the peace process with the MILF.

“The government, led by the President, is hoping that the two legislative chambers will approve the BBL which is the key to fulfilling the peace process that will reap benefits that will improve the lives of the people in Mindanao,” the Palace official said.

The Aquino spokesman did not express opposition to possible amendments in the bill, calling on Congress to prevent a “watered down” version of the BBL to be passed.

“We respect the process of Congress. That is part of the process of the legislative. The call of the President is the summary and the substance of the draft BBL must be maintained and that a watered down version should not be passed,” Coloma said.

The MILF has warned to return to war footing if the BBL is passed with alterations.

The claim was backed up by the government peace panel whose members said bloodshed will be possible if the BBL is dumped.

When asked what if the lawmakers amend some provisions in the BBL, Coloma said they will respect it as it is part of the legislative process.

Last Sept. 10, the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, now House Bill No. 4994, was submitted to Congress during ceremonies held in Malacañang.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are both conducting their respective consultations and inquiries regarding the Bangsamoro Basic Law.


PHILSTAR

AFP congratulates MILF for Usman kill, bares photo (philstar.com) | Updated May 4, 2015 - 12:23pm


A dead Basit Usman, terrorist-bomber, who was killed Sunday in an encounter in Maguindanao. AFP/Released

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 2:22 p.m.) — Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. congratulated the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government troops as he confirmed the death of terrorist-bomber Abdul Basit Usman on Monday.

"I want to convey my warm congratulations to the MILF and the government forces—both the AFP and the [Philippine National Police] who worked together in neutralizing this notorious terrorist," Catapang said in a press conference.

Catapang also said that the development shows the MILF's sincerity in the peace process with government.

An MILF band under a Commander Marlboro killed Usman at 11:30 a.m. at the adjoining towns of Guindulungan and Datu Saudi in Maguindanao, said senior officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

READ: Fugitive terrorist Usman killed by MILF

Usman, who was linked to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, was responsible for the countless deaths of civilians in a series of bombings in Mindanao the past years.

REA MORE...
Catapang said the AFP and the PNP had been a small group led by Usman for two months since the all-out campaign against the BIFF in Maguindanao.

Usman's group would approach MILF communities to divert their pursuers.

"The encounter site is near the vicinity of Camp Afghan, a temporary relocation site for MILF members who voluntarily vacated their homes during the conduct of law enforcement operations against the BIFF in the last week of February 2015," Catapang said.

Washington has offered a $1 million award for Usman's capture and prosecution.

Infighting

Catapang said that infighting among Usman's bodyguards led to a firefight Sunday in southern Maguindanao province, near a designated safe area for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim rebel group that signed a peace deal with the government last year.

He said Usman and five others were killed in a shootout allegedly with fellow members of his group.

But circumstances of Usman's death were still unclear, and Catapang said the military was investigating if he was already dead when Muslim rebels arrived to check the firefight. "What we are confirming is Basit Usman is dead," he told reporters, saying the military has physical evidence, including people who saw Usman's body being buried.

A tussle for the bounty may have fueled the infighting, Catapang said, adding that Usman has become distrustful of his men after a series of clashes with the military.

The military, meanwhile, released a photo of the dead body of Usman, who is seen lying down on the ground with mouth agape.

Catapang said the military will release a report on the incident.

Members of the MILF, BIFF and other armed groups killed 44 Special Action Force commandos on January 25 who were earlier in a raid to neutralize Usman and his Malaysian cohort, Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was killed in the operation. - Camille Diola and Alexis Romero with the Associated Press


MANILA BULLETIN

Lawmakers meet today on passing BBL by June by Charissa Luci May 4, 2015


Palace has been urging lawmakers to resume BBL hearings

The House and Senate leaders are set to meet today to determine whether or not they will be able to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before Congress’ sine die adjournment on June 11.

Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II said the congressional leaders will decide on the fate of the BBL, which has turned into an “election issue.”

“In fact, tomorrow magmi-meet ulit kami, kung maipapasa namin ang BBL. We should do that before we adjourn sine die nitong June. Because we both realized na ‘pag umabot na yan doon sa last session ng 16th Congress, talagang mahirap na ’yan. Dahil kasi nga, it becomes… not only sa marami sa amin controversial yan but it now becomes an election issue,” he said in a radio interview.

Every first Monday of the month, congressional leaders regularly meet to discuss the status of their legislative priorities.

Gonzales even expressed concern that once the budget season comes, the plenary approval of the BBL may be affected.

He appealed to his colleagues to religiously attend the plenary session to keep the legislative mill grinding and pass their priority measures.

READ MORE...
“Hindi naman kami mga high school o elementary students na you can always marshall na pag hindi ka umattend papaluin ang kamay mo. Hindi naman pwedeng ganon. Kaya ang palaging ginagawa na lang namin is to appeal to the sense of duty and responsibility to each and every member of the House,” he said.

RODRIGUEZ CONFIDENT

In a phone interview, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-man Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed BBL, expressed confidence that Congress will be able to pass the peace measure on or before June 11.

Rodriguez remains optimistic that both houses of Congress will give due attention to the BBL after President Aquino challenged anew critics of the peace measure to present alternative solutions to the conflict in Mindanao instead of just complaining about his government’s ‘lasting peace’ campaign in the southern Philippines.

“I agree with the President that the only way to end war in Mindanao is through the BBL, so that there is a good chance for us to achieve peace,” he said in a phone interview.

“I also believe that the Senate will be able to catch up with the House and finish its work by June 11,” Rodriguez said. The Senate is scheduled to conduct two more public hearings in Zamboanga City and in Metro Manila before making the final draft of the commitee report on the BBL.

Rodriguez said they are targeting to have the BBL passed before the sine die adjournment of Congress on June 11.

“By June, dapat passed na ang BBL sa both houses then we will have the bicameral report and the President will sign the Congress-approved bill,” he said.

The Rodriguez panel is set to put to vote the amended House Bill 4994 or the Bangsamoro measure on May 11 and 12.

After the voting, it will be endorsed for plenary debate and approval on May 18.

SCRAPPING 8 PROVISIONS

The panel is set to scrap at least eight controversial provisions, seven of which are unconstitutional.

Expected to be deleted from the BBL are the following:

a. The creation of a separate Bangsamoro electoral body as the election body in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous entity;

b. The creation of a civil service office similar to the functions of the Civil Service Commission

c. The establishment of a Bangsamoro Commission on Audit

d. The provision creating a disciplinary authority over officials in the region which is similar to the Office of the Ombudsman

e. The creation of a human rights body which will have jurisdiction over all human rights violations within the region.

f. Clothing the Bangasamoro government with primary responsibility over public order and safety in the covered territory.

g. The provision mandating coordination protocol agreement before the Armed Forces of the Philippines can deploy its personnel in the Bangsamoro

h. The so-called “opt-in” section that would allow 10 percent of registered voters of the barangay units of contiguous municipalities or cities outside the original Bangsamoro area to demand a plebiscite to propose joining the autonomous region.

After transmitting the committee report to the plenary, Rodriguez said they expect that President Aquino will certify the peace measure as urgent.


PHILSTAR

Aquino receives citizens' peace council report on Bangsamoro Law By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated May 4, 2015 - 6:16pm


The Peace Council on the Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted their report to President Aquino on May 4, 2015 during a meeting in Malacañang Palace. In photo, from left to right: The President with Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., Former Ambassador Howard Dee, Ms. Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, and His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines - The multi-sectoral, Palace-backed citizens' peace council on Monday submitted its report on the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to President Benigno Aquino III.

The peace council submitted the report and discussed its findings with Aquino during a meeting at the Palace.

Members of the peace council who turned over the report to the president were former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., former Ambassador Howard Dee, Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.

Composed of several prominent civil society and business leaders, the peace council was formed by Aquino following the Mamasapano incident to review the BBL and submit recommendations to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

READ MORE
The BBL has been in peril after 44 Special Action Force members were killed in an encounter with Moro rebels in January.

Last week, the peace council pleaded before the House of Representatives to approve the BBL, saying the country can no longer sustain the lives and economic opportunity wasted due to the persistent conflict in Mindanao.

Davide told lawmakers that the draft BBL complies with the Constitution.

"There is no creation of a separate kind of citizen, and no creation, virtual or otherwise, of a political territory that is greater than the national government that creates it, or beyond the reach of the Constitution that allows it,” he told the House ad hoc panel deliberating on the BBL.

The former magistrate tackled several provisions that appear constitutionally questionable, including the creation of audit, civil service, human rights and electoral offices in the envisioned Bangsamoro region, and the regional government having a parliamentary set-up.

"The Supreme Court and the constitutional bodies continue to maintain the powers given them under the Constitution. There is neither substitution nor diminution of powers intended or effected by the creation of the Bangsamoro human rights, auditing, civil service and electoral offices," Davide said.

READ: Peace council asks lawmakers to pass BBL


INQUIRER

Congress to pass BBL in June; Lawmakers to modify provisions deemed unconstitutional TJ Burgonio @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:46 AM | Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


POWERHOUSE MEETING Senate and House leaders meet at Club Filipino to map out their legislative work in the first half of this year, including the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by June 30. Among those present were Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo (second from left), Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II (third from left), Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (fourth from left), Senate President Franklin Drilon (center), Sen. Ralph Recto (fourth from right) and Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (third from right). CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday agreed to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by June.

“Our consensus is that we target to pass it by the end of the second regular session of the 16th Congress, which is June,” Drilon said in a telephone interview.

The second regular session of the 16th Congress ends on June 12.

Drilon, who proposed the new deadline to Belmonte, acknowledged that passing the draft BBL before Congress adjourns on March 21 for Holy Week was no longer possible.

“We can’t pass it in March,” he said, adding that passing it in June was “doable.”

Drilon said it was premature to say if the Senate could muster the number of votes required to pass the draft BBL by that time.

Belmonte said trying to enact the BBL would be an uphill effort for both houses of Congress after the Jan. 25 clash in which 44 police commandos were killed in fighting with Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.

READ MORE...
“This is a very difficult process,” Belmonte said, adding that passing the measure would take a lot of work to convince lawmakers to approve it after the Mamasapano tragedy.

BBL work suspended

He also stressed the need for Congress to ensure that the BBL conformed to the Constitution.

He said that despite public anger over the Mamasapano tragedy, the House had no choice but to continue its work on the draft BBL because the alternative was war.

Congress suspended hearings on the proposed BBL after the ceasefire between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was broken on Jan. 25, with a daylong clash between Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and guerrillas from the MILF and its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), in Mamasapano.

The SAF commandos went to Mamasapano to take down Jemaah Islamiyah bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and his Filipino deputy, Basit Usman.

They killed Marwan, but Usman managed to escape.

As they withdrew from Mamasapano, the commandos were set upon by BIFF and MILF guerrillas, who killed 44 of the US-trained counterterrorism officers.

Eighteen MILF guerrillas and five civilians were also killed in the fighting.

But it was the killing of the SAF commandos that drew widespread public anger, leading to the suspension of BBL discussions in both houses of Congress.

Bangsamoro autonomy

President Aquino, however, asked the leaders of Congress to continue work on the BBL, rejecting suggestions to leave it to the next administration.

The draft BBL would establish a new autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao as part of a peace agreement signed by the government and MILF in March last year.

Work on the draft law has been slowed down by discussions of provisions seen by lawmakers as running against the Constitution.

Leaders of both chambers met at Club Filipino in San Juan City on Monday to discuss their legislative agenda.

Drilon said he and Belmonte, as well as other senators and congressmen, did not discuss specific provisions, including those that had raised questions in public forums.

“What we discussed is the principle that it must conform to our Constitution, and provisions which we view to be contrary to the Constitution will be modified accordingly,” he said.

Joining Drilon in the meeting of congressional leaders at Club Filipino were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who represented the minority bloc.

Skeptical Marcos

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the local government committee, was skeptical about the passage of BBL by June.

“I believe it will be difficult, but we might still do it,” he told reporters.

Drilon said he had yet to talk to Marcos about the resumption of hearings on the BBL.

Marcos conducted public consultations on the BBL, but suspended these in the aftermath of the Mamasapano clash.

He said he would resume the hearings once the PNP board of inquiry and other investigative bodies submit their final reports to Congress.

“Once we have the board of inquiry results from the PNP, the board inquiry results from the MILF and also the committee report of the Senate, that’s enough material already,” Marcos said.

“We can still continue taking it up even during the break. Everything depends on the timetable of the [board of inquiry], but I can see how we’ll proceed. I still want to go to Sulu and Zamboanga to finish what we have begun, and conduct hearings here in Manila,” he added.–With reports from DJ Yap and Gil C. Cabacungan


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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