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Duterte to reconstitute BTC to draft BBL in line with shift to federalism

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza, as seen in screencap of report that aired on Aksyon Tuesday night.
The online news portal of TV5

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—President Duterte will reconstitute an inclusive Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to draft a new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is in line with the shift to the federal form of government the administration is pushing.

Presidential peace adviser Sec. Jesus “Jess” Dureza said the new BTC will be composed of representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and others.

The BBL, which was supposed to be the enabling law of the new Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao to replace the ARMM, failed to pass the previous Congress as it was seen by some quarters as constitutionally infirm.

 “Work on the new proposed Bangsamoro enabling law will be done simultaneous with the moves to shift to a federal set-up, the latter expected to come later under the planned time line. 

"The reconstituted and inclusive BTC will also be mandated to propose amendments to the Philippine Constitution that are pertinent to the Bangsamoro as inputs towards eventual federalism in the land,” Dureza said.

The new BBL will operationalize the peace roadmap with the Bangsamoro as contained  in the comprehensive peace roadmap President Duterte approved on Monday.

Dureza said the new peace strategy for the Bangsamoro “envisions the consolidation and/or convergence of the various peace agreements already entered into like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Moro National Liberation Front's 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA), including relevant provisions of the Republic Act No. 9054 (or the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Law) and the Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA).” 

According to Dureza, the President said there will no longer be any negotiations with any Bangsamoro group since “we are now already on the ‘implementation stage as the time for negotiations are over’.”

Talks with Reds

On the communist front, the President has also approved the way forward in the impending resumption of peace talks with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Dureza said the resumption of negotiations was reset tentatively to the middle of August 2016 and will be preceded by the release of 11 detained CPP-NPA-NDF leaders so that they can participate in the talks.

At Monday’s closed-door meeting with Dureza, the President directed compliance with legal procedures in order to effect the temporary releases of the 11 detained CPP-NPA-NDF leaders pursuant to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). 

The President also approved en toto the comprehensive peace roadmap Dureza presented, especially the proposed strategy of implementing massive development on the ground simultaneously with the work to implement agreements that government had entered into. 

 “I can sign a hundred peace agreements but if those on the ground do not immediately feel the dividends of peace, those agreements will not be sustainable,” Dureza said.

In a release, Duterte directed that the executive order of the peace office be amended to enable it to oversee all development projects and at the same time empower it to implement projects related to peace.