Peace Council conducts first meeting on draft BBL

THE multi-sectoral Peace Council recently held its first meeting to discuss the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The meeting held on April 6 in Makati City was attended by former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., Ambassador Howard Dee, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and youth leader Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman. They were joined by other co-convenors representing a broad swath of society.

The co-convenors included peace advocates, educators, economists and champions for social justice. The list includes: Archbishop Soc Villegas, Fr. Joel Tabora, Bishop Pablo David, Amina Rasul, Atty. Christian Monsod, Dean Sedfrey Candelaria, Dean Danilo Concepcion, professor Moner Bajunaid, Pat Sarenas, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, Dr. Cielito Habito, John Perrine, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, Bishop Tendero, Atty. Marlon Manuel, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta. Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, and Ramon del Rosario.

Davide welcomed the group with the reminder that “the hard work begins after BBL is passed”.

Usman, for her part, shared the perspective of a young Muslim woman “whose future will be immensely influenced by the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)."

Ayala stressed that the group is an independent body committed to helping the general public understand what is at stake in the BBL, identify contentious issues, and help find a path towards reconciling divergent views.

As an initial step, the convenors agreed to focus on the controversial BBL articles and organize clusters to discuss constitutionality and forms and powers of government (headed by Davide); justice, including social justice, and human development (co-chaired by Dee and Usman); economy and patrimony (headed by Ayala); and human security.

The cluster chairs with their expanded membership will hold in-depth sessions in the coming days.

They are expected to conclude by April 18, when they will share their output and future activities in a plenary.

President Benigno Aquino III created the Peace Council, which he said would be an independent group to work on the improvement of the draft BBL and would help in explaining to the public the proposed measure.

In Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino does not need to issue an executive order for the creation of the Peace Council.

Valte said in a press briefing that while Aquino initiated the creation of the Peace Council, it is purely an undertaking by non-government groups and does not entail public fund.

"Why would an EO be needed considering that they are not part of government? They are precisely an independent group that have accepted the invitation and not all of them, mind you, because the President only asked two of them and those two were mandated to get other people to join," she said.

"The community leaders have agreed to take on the task or to take on the challenge and there are no public funds that will be spent for them," Valte added.

She also said that it would be up to the Council to go about its work. (SDR/Sunnex)

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