OIC: BANGSAMORO DEAL ILLEGAL

To the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is just a scrap of paper. The OIC, formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference, is “the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents,” its website says. According to an official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the OIC recognizes “no other [peace] agreement” but the “legal and binding” Tripoli accord signed on September 2, 1996 by the Ramos administration and the MNLF. The official, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told The Manila Times that he was quoting from a letter sent to the MNLF by Iyad Bin Amin Madani, the OIC secretary general, who had refused an invitation from the Philippine government to witness the signing of the CAB in March this year. Madani, 67, the OIC’s 10th secretary general, succeeded Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who in 2013 ended his term at the organization that was founded in 1969. He heads an influential group that is “the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people[s] of the world,” according to the OIC website. READ MORE...

ALSO: Cracks in peace pact

TWO government nominees to the 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission have refused to sign the final copy of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, while two other members signed the draft “with reservations,” the Mindanews news service reported Monday. But government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer said the public should not read too much into the decision of Fatmawati Salapuddin and Johaira Wahab not to attend Sunday’s signing ceremony of the draft BBL. “In a process like this, you cannot really expect a 100 percent consensus among the BTC members,” Ferrer said. “But this is not the end of the road. The draft will be submitted to Malacañang (today, Tuesday), and it will undergo due diligence. The final Palace-approved draft which will be submitted to Congress is what the entire BTC will carry,” she added. Ferrer acknowledged that the BTC commissioners who refused to sign the draft “may have reservations over some provisions of the BBL.” “Perhaps they felt that some provisions went beyond the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or maybe they had other interests in mind,” she said. She said the draft BBL will be “refined” through the review process by a legal team under the Office of the President. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim insurgency in Mindanao. READ MORE...

(ALSO) MILF dared: Expel criminal members

Govt panelist snipes at Sayyaf supporters. THE government has asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to “expel” its members who it says have supported the Abu Sayyaf and other criminal elements in the south. Government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer made the call after a military operation against Abu Sayyaf top leader Furuji Indama in Basilan last week left 20 people dead, including two soldiers and four MILF members. Ferrer: “As an organization that signed the peace agreement, the MILF must not tolerate the criminal acts of any of their individual members. They must do their part in arresting the impunity long enjoyed by these unscrupulous individuals,” Ferrer said. “They should expel from their ranks those who reject peace and are directly or indirectly abetting the hostage-taking and preventing development to set in.” Still, MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar mourned the death of the four MILF members and asked an independent ceasefire-monitoring body to look into the military attack. READ MORE...

ALSO: Experts debate legality of Bangsamoro pact

In the celebratory wake of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, some adverse commentary has questioned its legality and constitutionality. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's has only been the loudest. The peace process with the MILF is following a tight two-year timeline reckoned from the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) last March 27 to the May 2016 presidential elections, which is expected to include the polls for the “ministerial” Bangsamoro Assembly. Should a serious legal challenge to the constitutionality of the CAB be mounted in the coming months, that timeline could be derailed. Former dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines Merlin M. Magallona has warned that the Agreement "may have to submit the test of its final validity to the power of review of the Supreme Court." "This conditionality would be the price the Framework Agreement may have to pay in avoidance of the fundamental law," he said in a special issue of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Journal. Magallona questioned the constitutionality of the power sharing provisions of the CAB. Magallona specifically asked the following: Does the Agreement...entail a transfer of the sovereign powers of the people to the contractual arrangement between the Parties? By its commitment to empower the Transition Commission to propose amendment to the Constitution, has the Central Government departed from the Supreme Court’s directive in the (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain) MOA-AD case that it has no authority by itself to propose such amendment? Does the Framework Agreement envisage that its principle on power relations...be incorporated into the Constitution by necessary amendment? This gives the impression that the Agreement operates over and above the Constitution. Will the President have the discretion to make changes in the Basic Law as a bill prepared by the Transition Commission before he certifies it as urgent? READ MORE...

ALSO: Bangsamoro pact can stand legal scrutiny — Palace

Malacañang is confident that the contentious Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will stand legal scrutiny, citing other legal experts who have voiced their support of the agreement. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, during a press briefing yesterday, raised the issue in reaction to the statement made by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago that the CAB is unconstitutional. “Well, obviously Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s opinion is different from other constitutional lawyers as well. There are other constitutional lawyers as well. There are other constitutionalists who found the CAB as constitutional,” he stressed. “The instruction of the President in negotiating for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was to make sure that it will be within the parameters of the Constitution. And we believe, certainly, that the CAB can withstand constitutional scrutiny, judicial scrutiny,” he stressed. Lacierda said government peace panel chairman Miriam Colonel-Ferrer is ready to sit down with Santiago and other lawmakers to explain the agreement.READ MORE...


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Bangsamoro deal illegal – OIC


OIC -Organization of Islamic Cooperation – The 57 State Body represented at the United Nations

MANILA, APRIL 28, 2014
(MANILA TIMES) by Jerry N. Adlaw Correspondent - To the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is just a scrap of paper.

The OIC, formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference, is “the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents,” its website says.

According to an official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the OIC recognizes “no other [peace] agreement” but the “legal and binding” Tripoli accord signed on September 2, 1996 by the Ramos administration and the MNLF.

The official, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told The Manila Times that he was quoting from a letter sent to the MNLF by Iyad Bin Amin Madani, the OIC secretary general, who had refused an invitation from the Philippine government to witness the signing of the CAB in March this year.

Madani, 67, the OIC’s 10th secretary general, succeeded Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who in 2013 ended his term at the organization that was founded in 1969.

He heads an influential group that is “the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people[s] of the world,” according to the OIC website.

The MNLF official said the MNLF sees President Benigno Aquino 3rd signing the Bangsamoro pact as “a provocative act that [has created] another serious conflict for the people of Mindanao,” home in the South to the Philippines’ Muslim minority.

The official added that the organization’s leaders reaffirmed during a meeting in Davao City last Saturday that the only peace deal that matters to them is the Tripoli Agreement, which, for one, created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Also during the meeting, the MNLF official said, the organization’s leaders noted that President Aquino had promised but failed to resolve 42 “defective” provisions of Republic Act 9054 that amended RA 6734, which created the ARMM.

The “expeditious” signing of the CAB and the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would create the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is “tantamount to violation” of the1996 peace pact, the official added.

No fear

But despite reports on the involvement of MILF fighters in kidnapping activities in the south, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there is no reason to fear the outcome of the peace deal between the government and the Muslim group.

In a press briefing, Coloma echoed the call of peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the MILF leadership to police its ranks and prevent members from aligning themselves with bandit groups such as the Abu Sayyaf.

“We remain focused on the objectives of the CAB, which is to be able to establish by 2016 the Bangsamoro Political Entity. If there are any efforts to derail that process, then both sides continue to be firmly committed to do what is needed in order to make sure that those efforts do not stand in the way of the ultimate objective,” the Palace official stressed.

Nine ASG members were killed during recent clashes with soldiers last week, among them Nur Espital who has been identified as a member of the MILF. Three other alleged MILF members were injured.

Ferrer said some MILF members are connected by affinity to Furuji Indama, the top leader of the ASG and one of the most wanted men in the country. Furuji is charged with several cases of murder and kidnappings.

“In the last three years, there were nearly 100 cases of abductions of children as young as a year old, students, businessmen, foreigners, journalists, senior citizens, barangay officials, and teachers. Many of these kidnap victims are still in captivity while some have been killed,” she noted.

But Coloma gave assurances that the President remains committed to every word contained in the CAB that was signed last March 27 in Malacañang.

“On the part of the President, he made clear that we should not be bothered by fear and uncertainty. We should not allow fear or uncertainty to affect our resolve to bring about the fruition of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” the Palace official said.

What is important, he explained, is that both Aquino and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad have declared before the world that they will ensure the success of the peace deal. With Joel M. Sy Egco





FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Cracks in peace pact
By Joyce Pangco Panares, Florante S. Solmerin and Maricel V. Cruz | Apr. 22, 2014 at 12:01am
18

Govt panel raises issue on basic law, MILF on ouster of Abu backers

TWO government nominees to the 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission have refused to sign the final copy of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, while two other members signed the draft “with reservations,” the Mindanews news service reported Monday.

But government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer said the public should not read too much into the decision of Fatmawati Salapuddin and Johaira Wahab not to attend Sunday’s signing ceremony of the draft BBL.

“In a process like this, you cannot really expect a 100 percent consensus among the BTC members,” Ferrer said.

“But this is not the end of the road. The draft will be submitted to Malacañang (today, Tuesday), and it will undergo due diligence. The final Palace-approved draft which will be submitted to Congress is what the entire BTC will carry,” she added.

Ferrer acknowledged that the BTC commissioners who refused to sign the draft “may have reservations over some provisions of the BBL.”

“Perhaps they felt that some provisions went beyond the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or maybe they had other interests in mind,” she said.

She said the draft BBL will be “refined” through the review process by a legal team under the Office of the President.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim insurgency in Mindanao.

But MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar on Monday asked Ferrer to explain what she meant when she reportedly asked the rebel group to expel members who have an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Jaafar held out the possibility that Ferrer was misquoted, however.

“That kind of statement she is not supposed to [issue] because she will be misunderstood,” Jaafar said.

“But we think she may have been misquoted by the reporters who interviewed her. I think it’s better to verify what she meant by her statement,” he added.

Jaafar said he is also not sure if Ferrer was speaking on behalf of the Armed Forces, which has consistently accused the MILF of having an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang operating in Basilan and Sulu.

“Definitely, we don’t have an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf. Why should we enter into an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf... when we have signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro last March 27?” he said.

Ferrer played down Jaafar’s concern.

“We are not accusing the MILF of anything, especially not as an organization. We are asking their help,” Ferrer said in a phone interview.

“They are in the best position to discipline their own ranks,” she added.

Ferrer said if Jaafar felt she should not have made a public call on the MILF to expel members who have supported criminal elements such as the Abu Sayyaf, she respects his opinion.

Lawmakers on Monday rallied behind the government’s call for the MILF to get rid of members who support the Abu Sayyaf.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, a member of the independent minority bloc, said the government must enforce an iron fist policy against the bandits.

“Not just ask, but the government should demand the expulsion and cases to be brought versus these people, and if possible, jointly bring them to face justice. They should not let them get away,” De la Cruz told the Manila Standard.

House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III also supported Ferrer’s call and denounced the Abu Sayyaf.

“It is but right for the government to require the MILF to expel belligerent members because these are lawless people. They are breakers of the long awaited peace in Mindanao,” Tugna said.

Albano, a member of the House committee on national defense, said that bandits in any form have no place in a peace loving country like the Philippines.

“They are bandits. Whether they are MILF or MNLF, they should be arrested,” Albano said.

The government’s peace agreement with the MILF paves the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The leadership of both houses of Congress have committed to pass the BBL by December, after which a plebiscite will be held in the first quarter of 2015.

The plebiscite will cover the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in six municipalities of Cotabato province.

After the plebiscite, the government aims to put the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015 to serve as interim government until the elections in 2016.

MILF dared: Expel criminal members By Joyce Pangco Panares | Apr. 21, 2014 at 12:01am

Govt panelist snipes at Sayyaf supporters


Ferrer

THE government has asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to “expel” its members who it says have supported the Abu Sayyaf and other criminal elements in the south.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer made the call after a military operation against Abu Sayyaf top leader Furuji Indama in Basilan last week left 20 people dead, including two soldiers and four MILF members.

“As an organization that signed the peace agreement, the MILF must not tolerate the criminal acts of any of their individual members. They must do their part in arresting the impunity long enjoyed by these unscrupulous individuals,” Ferrer said.

“They should expel from their ranks those who reject peace and are directly or indirectly abetting the hostage-taking and preventing development to set in.”

Still, MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar mourned the death of the four MILF members and asked an independent ceasefire-monitoring body to look into the military attack.

But Ferrer noted that the MILF casualties were connected by affinity to Indama, one of the most wanted men in the country and who has been charged with several cases of murder and kidnappings.

“The peace process should not be used to shield criminals from their accountability for their crimes against innocent civilians,” Ferrer said.

She said the ceasefire-monitoring body as well as the government-MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group were scheduled to meet soon.

“We expect both parties to renew their commitment and to come up with concrete operational guidelines that would allow them to effectively work together in securing the people’s safety and well-being in Basilan and elsewhere in Mindanao,” Ferrer said.

The Basilan incident took place days before the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, led by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, submitted the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to the Palace.

The BBL will create the Bangsamoro, a political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

A Palace legal team composed of deputy executive secretary for legal affairs Michael Aguinaldo, chief presidential legal counsel Benjamin Caguioa, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and other government legal experts is now going through the draft BBL.

The leadership of both houses of Congress have committed to pass the BBL by December, after which a plebiscite will be held in the first quarter of 2015.

The plebiscite will cover the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 villages in six municipalities in Cotabato.

After the plebiscite, the government aims to put the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015 to serve as the interim government until the elections in 2016.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Experts debate legality of Bangsamoro pact By EARL VICTOR L. ROSERO, GMA NewsApril 15, 2014 3:00pm 146 18 0 236

In the celebratory wake of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, some adverse commentary has questioned its legality and constitutionality. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's has only been the loudest.

The peace process with the MILF is following a tight two-year timeline reckoned from the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) last March 27 to the May 2016 presidential elections, which is expected to include the polls for the “ministerial” Bangsamoro Assembly.

Should a serious legal challenge to the constitutionality of the CAB be mounted in the coming months, that timeline could be derailed.

Former dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines Merlin M. Magallona has warned that the Agreement "may have to submit the test of its final validity to the power of review of the Supreme Court."

"This conditionality would be the price the Framework Agreement may have to pay in avoidance of the fundamental law," he said in a special issue of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Journal.

Magallona questioned the constitutionality of the power sharing provisions of the CAB.

Magallona specifically asked the following:
Does the Agreement...entail a transfer of the sovereign powers of the people to the contractual arrangement between the Parties?

By its commitment to empower the Transition Commission to propose amendment to the Constitution, has the Central Government departed from the Supreme Court’s directive in the (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain) MOA-AD case that it has no authority by itself to propose such amendment?

Does the Framework Agreement envisage that its principle on power relations...be incorporated into the Constitution by necessary amendment? This gives the impression that the Agreement operates over and above the Constitution.

Will the President have the discretion to make changes in the Basic Law as a bill prepared by the Transition Commission before he certifies it as urgent?

Thus far, there are three sets of meticulous legal commentary on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the centerpiece of the CAB and mother document of the four CAB Annexes:

- A November 2013 comparative analysis of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain and the FAB by Dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria of the Ateneo Law School;

- A December 2012 special issue of the IBP Journal containing articles by legal luminaries Nasser A. Marohomsalic, Merlin M. Magallona, and Soliman M. Santos, Jr.

- A 2009 Ateneo Law Journal article by Atty. Soliman M. Santos Jr. entitled “Constitutional Challenges of Philippine Peace Negotiations."

Add to these three the findings of a survey, Learning from the MOA-AD, by Elmelyn S. Hayudini and Judith M. de Guzman published by the Notre Dame of Jolo College in January 2013.

Constitutional questions

Magallona's commentary intersects with the views Senator Santiago recently expressed in a speech given in Olongapo.

Santiago alleges unconstitutional executive overstretch.

She said the Philippine government's agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is unconstitutional because:
the government panel and the Aquino administration "misrepresented" themselves as the Philippine government and went beyond its authority;
the entity that will replace the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao is a "substate," not provided for in the 1987 Constitution, and will have powers that "diminishes" the sovereignty of the Philippine government; and
the agreement gives the government's "consent" to amend the Constitution.

"In negotiating for the government, I am afraid that the executive branch not only exceeded its powers, but may have infringed upon the powers of the legislative branch." Santiago said.

She said the CAB seems to "facilitate the secession of the Bangsamoro from our country, in a manner similar to the secession of Kosovo and Crimea."

The chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments said "the Agreement not only reduces the sovereignty of the central government, but also provides that in the future, such sovereign powers as have been reserved may be further increased, provided the Bangsamoro agrees."

Santiago also took issue with CAB stipulation that the Bangsamoro political entity will have "exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources."

The senator has other points against the "substate" nature of the Bangsamoro as contemplated in the CAB.

In response, government panel chair, Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, said in a statement that they were "ever mindful of the President's instructions that any agreement we must conclude must be within the framework of the 1987 Constitution."

Coronel-Ferrer also said they "will be seeking a meeting with the Honorable Senator and other legislators to extensively discuss the different provisions in the CAB and to allow for a deeper understanding of the context and substance of the documents."

Insights of legal eagles

Other legal experts view differently the provisions Senator Santiago and Atty. Magallona question.

In the IBP Journal special issue, Atty. Marohomsalic acknowledges that "the existence of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government in southern Philippines within the Philippine State is a case of political asymmetry. So does the presidential form of the Philippine Government and the ministerial form of government sought for the Bangsamoro Government under the FAB."

He added that "another instance of incongruency" is the allocation of powers between the national government and the Bangsamoro government.

"But this legal issue was anticipated by the 1987 Constitutional Commission that drafted the Constitution," Marohomsalic said.

He argued that the sultanic system that prevailed in the past of Muslim Mindanao "hewed closely" to the United Kingdom's ministerial and parliamentary system.

"In fine, the proposal for a ministerial form of government for the Bangsamoro measures up to constitutional regulation even as it carries on the legacy of the past," according to Marohomsalic.

He also sees the additional powers to the Bangsamoro as consistent with the policy of decentralization or subsidiarity enshrined in the Constitution.

Ateneo Law School Dean Candelaria said the powers enumerated in the MOA-AD and the FrameWork Agreement are different.

"The MOA-AD described the relationship as 'associative' while the FAB characterized it as 'asymmetric' wherein the Central Government has reserved powers with the Bangsamoro exercising exclusive powers and shared concurrent powers to be enjoyed by both," Candelaria said.

"In the North Cotabato case, the Supreme Court struck down the MOA-AD concept of an associative relationship," he noted.

Dean Candelaria also made these key observations:
There is a marginal distinction between the contemplated entities under both agreements. It is clear, however, that both agreements intended to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao;
Unlike the MOA-AD, the FAB elaborated on the basic rights and freedoms of the constituents in the Bangsamoro;
the FAB dispenses with the references to ancestral domain but retained the concept of vested property rights; and
the grant of territorial waters to the BJE may be allowed considering that it is akin to the grant of municipal waters to local government units and rights over waters within ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples, which are culled from the internal waters of the Philippines.

The Ateneo Law School dean also clarified that in a peace agreement, the use of the word "treaty" may not necessarily involve sovereign status.

He explained that "the concept of treaty may be used in a domestic sense."

"In the case of Canada, treaty simply means an agreement between people. The Government of Canada and the courts understand treaties between the Crown and the indigenous peoples to be solemn agreements that set out promises, obligations and benefits for both parties," Candelaria said.

He further expounded that in the Canadian setting a treaty "means a negotiated agreement between a First Nation and the Central Government that spells out the rights of the First Nation with respect to lands and resources over specified areas."

Candelaria also cited the Treaty of Waitangi of the Maori people in New Zealand as another example of treaty in a domestic sense. — HS, GMA News

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Bangsamoro pact can stand legal scrutiny — Palace
Written by Paul Atienza Saturday, 05 April 2014 00:00

Malacañang is confident that the contentious Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will stand legal scrutiny, citing other legal experts who have voiced their support of the agreement.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, during a press briefing yesterday, raised the issue in reaction to the statement made by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago that the CAB is unconstitutional.

“Well, obviously Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s opinion is different from other constitutional lawyers as well. There are other constitutional lawyers as well. There are other constitutionalists who found the CAB as constitutional,” he stressed.

“The instruction of the President in negotiating for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was to make sure that it will be within the parameters of the Constitution. And we believe, certainly, that the CAB can withstand constitutional scrutiny, judicial scrutiny,” he stressed.

Lacierda said government peace panel chairman Miriam Colonel-Ferrer is ready to sit down with Santiago and other lawmakers to explain the agreement.

“Sen. Miriam-Defensor Santiago will have the opportunity to discuss her reservations, perhaps, on the CAB and, hopefully, there will be no more reservations at that point,” he added.

“But certainly we hope that everything will be done within the timeline. This is a peace agreement that will redound to good governance, the collective security for all of us,” he added.

The Malacañang official also expressed hope that the issues would be threshed out in the deliberations in Congress so that it will be enacted into law by December.

“(Afterwards) we can move on to the plebiscite and we will have a transitional authority leading up to elections in 2016,” Lacierda said.

“There have been many, many voices of support on this agreement because of the development and the good that will redound, not only to the Bangsamoro entity, not only to Mindanao, but also to the entire Philippines and to our Asean region,” he noted.

As for updates to the draft law, Lacierda said that he could only echo the statement made by Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal who said that the panel is already finalizing it.

“It is a self-imposed deadline, by the way. But, hopefully, they will be able to finalize and submit it... in time for the Office of the President to go through it and before we submit it to the legislature,” Lacierda said.

Aquino has assured that he would certify as urgent the proposed bill of the Bangsamoro law which could be included in his July 2014 state of the nation address.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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