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Palace Assures Peace Council Created ‘Only to Review BBL’

President Aquino formed a five-man citizens’ peace conclave called the Citizens Leaders’ Council on the first anniversary of the signing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) peace agreement last Friday.

Created to review and improve the proposed BBL, the council is composed of “citizen leaders” from the government, business, religious, and civil society sectors headed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Also part of the council are former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee, and youth leader Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.

The President said the council’s aim is to “dissect the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness” so that the “BBL can be improved.”

The creation of the council is seen to advance the passage of the BBL or House Bill 4994. “We welcomed the President’s good action of forming a Citizens Leaders’ Council that would lead the national discussion on the BBL. It will help expedite the passage of the BBL,.” Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the Ad Hoc Commitee on the Bangsamoro bill, said in an interview.

Rodriguez assured they will scrutinize House Bill 4994 by section to make sure that illegal provisions are eliminated. “ He further said that they will not approve a BBL that would violate the Constitution.

Meanwhile. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte assured that the National Peace Summit will not in any way replace Senate and House deliberations on the BBL.

“It was created not to supplant Congress, not to replace Congress, or not to denigrate the legislative process that the BBL has to undergo but rather, it creates an opportunity for community leaders and well-respected personalities in our society to come together to sit down and discuss the BBL and to also, in their understanding, to propose ways to move forward,” Valte said.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos said that the palace’s initiative in forming the peace council is an attempt to rally public support for the passage of the BBL.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, Chairman of the Senate oversight committee on the Local Government Code, however, said the creation of a citizen council scrutinizing the BBL would have no consequence on the Senate’s deliberations of the measure.