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Ratsadahin na! Zubiri eyes BBL plenary vote in March

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By Xave Gregorio

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said in the first public hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday (December 20) that he is eyeing a plenary vote on the measure in March.

Zubiri, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on the BBL, also vowed to conduct “marathon hearings” on the proposed bill in the first quarter of 2018.

“I’m not a constitutionalist, I’m not a lawyer but my heart as a Mindanaoan is with you 100 percent. and I guarantee you that we will try to come up with a Bangsamoro Basic Law that would be ready by plenary hopefully by March,” Zubiri said.

Passage of the bill in Senate seems certain, as Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said opposition solons are supportive of the measure, which was first tackled in Congress during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III.

If Congress does end up voting in favor of the BBL, a plebiscite may be held in April or May, with a Bangsamoro government becoming a reality by June, Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Maisara Dandamun-Latiph said.

President Rodrigo Duterte is batting for the passage of BBL to correct what he calls a “historical injustice” against Moros, who have been waging a rebellion since the 1960s.

The BBL is the enabling law of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which will create a more autonomous Bangsamoro political body.

The bill failed to hurdle in the previous Congress after the Mamasapano clash, where 44 Special Action Forces commandos were killed.