House panels OK Duterte-backed BBL

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) — Two House panels approved the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which seeks to create a political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

House Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema raised the motion to pass House Bill (HB) 6475 in an executive session on Monday. The House committee on Muslim affairs and the special committee on peace, unity and reconciliation carried the motion with 5-3 and 6-4 votes, respectively. However, the committee on local government rejected the motion with a vote of 1-9.

A bill requires a majority vote to reach the Senate.

HB 6475 seeks to establish a basic structure of government for the Moro people, who were the "natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan."

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez authored the measure, which was among four versions filed at the House. The other three proposals were filed by Sema, Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Lanao del Norte Reppresentative Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo.

READ: Peace adviser: Proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to be certified urgent by June

Under the bill, the Bangsamoro shall remain a territory of the Philippines under the protection of the Central Government. The Central Government shall establish a Bangsamoro Military Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the Bangsamoro, and a Bangsamoro Police.

The Bangsamoro territory encompasses the following areas:

- The Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagolan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao Del Norte and barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite

- The cities of Cotabato and Isabela

- All other contiguous areas where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.

According to the House of Representatives Press and Public Affairs Bureau, they will conduct a popular ratification among the Moro people, "to ensure the widest acceptability of the BBL."

On March 28, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted the BBL to be passed within the year to fulfill his promise of bringing peace in the south.

READ: Duterte: I want BBL before the end of the year