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Bangsamoro transition body members expected to be named in January

Presidential adviser Jesus Dureza speaks at a peace forum in Oct. 26, 2016 file photo. INTERAKSYON.COM
The online news portal of TV5

PASIG CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to name 21 members of the new and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) by January next year, according to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza.

“By January, baka lalabas na ang appointment ng pangulo (the president is expected to appoint the members),” Dureza said.

The BTC, created by Duterte’s Executive Order no. 8 signed on November 7, is one of the mechanisms under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) tasked to draft an enabling law that will establish and operationalize the envisioned Bangsamoro political entity.

The same EO expanded the current BTC membership from 15 (seven from the government and eight, including the chairperson, from the MILF) to a 21-member body. The expanded BTC will now have 10 members appointed by the government; and 11, including its chairperson, will be named by the MILF.

Increasing the number of BTC members, according to Dureza, strives to bring together all key peace actors and stakeholders in the implementation of all Bangsamoro accords.

“In our initial talks with the MILF last August 2016, we agreed to raise the members from 15 to 21 so we can have more representatives, more inclusive memberships that represent other key sectors,” the peace adviser said.

Earlier, Dureza disclosed that the Moro National Liberation Front under the leadership of Muslimin Sema is expected to join the BTC on top of other key sectors including the indigenous peoples, sultanates, local government units, and the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The presidential peace adviser, however, clarified that the 21-member BTC could not accommodate all sectors but the newly-formed panel is expected to convene and consult all groups within the proposed Bangsamoro areas.

EO No. 8 mandated the BTC to form an inclusive Bangsamoro Assembly to serve as a consultative body to discuss the proposed enabling law with various stakeholders.

BTC timeline

Besides ensuring inclusivity in the process, the work of BTC focuses on writing a new proposed measure, which will replace the old Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The timeline for the BTC to finish the draft is July 2017—in time for the resumption of the Congressional session and the President’s second State of the Nation Address.

The peace adviser said the old BBL which the last Congress failed to enact into law will probably be the basic document, among other pertinent legislations, of the new enabling law.

Napag-aralan na rin ang old BBL, hindi lang napasa dahil may dumating na Mamasapano [incident], which put doubts on the level of trust in the talks. There are also issues about constitutionality but some sectors were saying the provisions are constitutionally-compliant. So, all of these will be taken noted [The old BBL already underwent scrutiny but failed to be passed because of the Mamasapano incident, which put doubts on the level of trust in the talks. There were also issues on its constitutionality, but there are sectors affirming that the old BBL is constitutionally-compliant],” the peace adviser explained.

Dureza also shed light on his previous pronouncements on Charter change and said that opening up the Constitution for revisions can only be an option in the peace talks.

“It [charter change] should happen depende na kung mapag-usapan across the table at makita na mayroong napag-usapan na parang hindi compliant sa present Constitution natin. [It should happen depending on what will be discussed across the table and if there are points that seem to be not compliant with our present Constitution],” Dureza said.