THE passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not compatible with the ongoing imposition of martial law in Mindanao, a lawmaker from the minority said on Tuesday, November 28.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said in a press conference that the government cannot talk peace if martial law is being imposed in the region where BBL is considered relevant.

President Rodrigo Duterte, during the first Bangsamoro Assembly held in Maguindanao last Monday, said he plans to ask the Congress to convene in a special session to discuss the proposed BBL.

"The President should not engage in double speed. He wants to have BBL but he doesn't want to have peace in Mindanao," said Villarin.

Villarin noted that the government could not push for the BBL's passage now that the people in the Bangsamoro are being branded as "terrorists."

Mindanao has been placed under martial law since May 23, following clashes between the Maute group and the government forces in Marawi City.

Martial law in Mindanao has not yet been lifted despite the liberation of war-stricken Marawi City last October.

"There is a question of sincerity. We don't want to rush things as what this administration always wants. It does think impulsively even it has no framework with regards to how the government should be run," said Villarin.

For Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, the government should discuss first the shift of the government to federal system to avoid changing anew the BBL had it passed the Congress, to conform with the federal system of the government.

"What we don't want to happen is to conform the federal system to the BBL," said Alejano.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, meanwhile, called the announcement of the President "grossly premature," adding that the BBL must be first cleansed of constitutional infirmities.

Foremost of which, he said, is the legislative abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) whose establishment is mandated by the 1987 Constitution.

Lagman said there is a need for a constitutional amendment to replace the Armm with the "expanded" and "more powerful" Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. (SunStar Philippines)