After a long wait, finally, the appointment papers of the 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) were officially released by government last February 10. Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) made the announcement during a press conference at his office in Pasig City.
Of course, the best situation is for these appointments to have been made in October, November or at least in December last year. But that did not happen for many reasons; and therefore, it is not good to worry about it. What happens is what happens; we cannot change it. Truth is that it is better late than never. It can be a reason to look to the future with some sigh of relief.
The BTC is asked to produce the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on or before July this year, which is barely four months from now. Of course, it is not impossible to beat the deadline, but honestly speaking, if the BTC does not work overtime, as a single unit, and with the higher interest of the Bangsamoro people always in their mind, the task would prove to be very tough and daunting.
In comparison, the task of the current BTC, compared to the previous one, is quite easier in terms of the proposed law itself. It is not supposed to start from scratch. The alternative bill proposed by Senator Bongbong Marcos adopted 20 percent of the original BBL, while the House version sustained around 70 percent of it; and for this reason, the BTC can probably concentrate on the provisions revised in the Senate and House versions, as well as examining other agreements or laws, say the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement of 1996 or R.A. 9054, in order to come up with an “improved” and “enhanced” proposed law.
By this way, the proposed law will be very inclusive, in addition to the inclusivity of its membership. Consequently, we can expect better cooperation and collegiality in the commission.
Of course, this idea is just thinking aloud, so to speak. The decision lies entirely in the BTC, which is a collegial body; meaning, its authority or power is shared among a number of people associated as colleagues.
We never doubt the new BTC, like previous one, would rise up to the occasion and come up with the best proposed law on the basis of the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), and, to repeat, improved and enhanced by related provisions of other agreements or laws.
But as word of reminder, the proposed BBL is supposed to address or solve the “Bangsamoro Problem or Question”. This was and still is the sole agenda of government and MILF when they decided to open negotiations with each other.
This problem is political, and, therefore, without saying, pure legalism is not the way. This problem is bigger than what current laws can amply address.