Philippine government peace panel eyes BBL plebiscite in February 2016

MANILA, Philippines, 26 October -- There is still hope that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed by Congress in December, so that a plebiscite may be held in February next year.

Philippine government peace panel chair . Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that even though the Comelec is busy preparing for the May 2016 national and local elections, the members of peace panel are in constant communication with the poll body to ensure that once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed, the plebiscite will be held in the soonest time possible “probably in February 2016 if BBL is passed in December.”

Signed on 27 March 2014, the CAB is the final political settlement that consolidates all the agreements by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and effectively puts an end to the 17 years of negotiations and conflict between both parties.

The fate of the envisioned region now hangs in the balance as the Senate and the House of Representatives have set December 16 as their new deadline for the passage of the proposed BBL.

She said delay in the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will impede some of the targets in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), including the holding of a plebiscite to determine the geographical scope of the Bangsamoro.

Ferrer said the components of the CAB are interrelated so that a delay in the legislative track will also affect the implementation of its other integral elements.

“Halimbawa, bagama’t matagal na nating pinaghahandaan at nakausap na rin natin ang Comelec (Commission on Elections) para sa paghahanda sa plebisito, di ka naman pwedeng mag-plebisito kung wala ka pang batas,” Ferrer said.

(For example, a plebiscite on the BBL cannot be held without legislation even as we continue to prepare for this and hold talks with the Comelec.)

In the meantime, both panels are busy with other activities related to the peace agreement. “Dahil ang ating peace agreement naman ay comprehensive, marami pang ibang aspeto yan, lalo na kaugnay nung normalization (process),” she said.

(Our peace agreement is comprehensive, and includes other aspects, especially with regards the normalization process.)

Among these activities are the convening last week of the independent decomissioning body that oversees the process of decommissioning the weapons and combatants of the MILF, according to Ferrer.

She said socio-economic programs are also being laid down or rolled out in anticipation of the eventual passage into law of the proposed BBL.

Ferrer was the guest on Friday at the Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan held at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) building. Media ng Bayan comprises government media including Philippine Broadcasting System-Radyo ng Bayan, People’s Television, Philippines News Agency and PIA. (Andrea Lynne Reposo/Media ng Bayan-OpCen)


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