At a press briefing on Wednesday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said members of the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are aware that its peace panel and the government are working toward a mutually acceptable bill.
“The MILF is also familiar that both parties are working steadfastly on making sure that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be submitted to Congress,” he said.
He added that the government is optimistic that the draft law will be finished and ready for submission to President Benigno Aquino III by August 18, as earlier committed by the peace panels.
“That is something that we’re working on and we certainly would like to see an agreement that we can submit it already before the Congress,” he said.
The Palace official further maintained that it is “still possible” to conduct a plebiscite and form the Bangsamoro Transition Authority—the interim ministerial government of the proposed new political entity—even if the basic law is passed during the first quarter of 2015.
Over the weekend, the peace panels “reached agreement on substantial versions” of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which seeks to create a new political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The crafting of the bill has been stalled over the past weeks after Aquino’s legal team allegedly made changes to the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law will embody the comprehensive peace agreement signed last March by the MILF and the government, aiming to end the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.
MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal earlier said that his group will “do everything possible” to ensure that the peace accord is implemented. —KBK, GMA News