Press Release
January 8, 2015


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, said today that she will hold a hearing on the constitutional issues surrounding the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), on January 26 and February 2.

Santiago has been outspoken in saying that the basis of the BBL, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, is unconstitutional because it allegedly violates the principle of constitutional supremacy.

The senator said that the Agreement establishes not a mere autonomous region as provided for by the Constitution, but a substate which will exercise certain sovereign powers that should be reserved only for the central government.

"I would like to hear what the proponents of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will have to say during the hearings. Let's see if they can change my mind," Santiago said.

The BBL was primarily referred to the committee on local government chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.; and secondarily, to the committee on peace and unification chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III. The two committees have held three joint hearings on the BBL, and will hold two more hearings on February 4 and 5 in Jolo and Zamboanga, respectively.

While the Senate Rules favor the referral of a bill to not more than two committees, it allows a motion for referral to a third committee. Marcos is set to move to refer the BBL to a third committee, Santiago's committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, on the first session day of the Senate on January 20. Santiago is the acknowledged constitutional law expert in the Senate.

During the Kapihan sa Senado earlier today, Marcos said that his committee, along with Santiago's, intends to find the best solution or framework for the BBL.

Malacañang has certified the BBL as urgent, and has urged both Houses of Congress to fast-track it.

Senate President Franklin Drilon gave the committees until February 16 to file their joint committee report.

Congress wants to pass the BBL before session adjourns on March 18.

Santiago's committee is set to invite the following resource persons for its January 26 hearing:

1. BBL Proponents: Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles (presidential adviser on the peace process); Prof. Miriam Colonel-Ferrer (chief government negotiator); Mohaguer Igbal (chair, Bangsamoro Transition Commission); Atty. Mike Mastura (chair, advocacy committee of the MILF negotiating panel); and Ghadjali Jafar (MILF vice chair for political affairs).

2. Constitutional law experts: Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno; and retired SC Justices Adolfo Azcuna and Vicente Mendoza.

3. Academe: Fr. Joaquin Bernas (Ateneo Law School); Dean Merlin Magallona (UP College of Law); Dean Julkipli Wadi (UP Institute of Islamic Studies); and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino (Dean, San Beda College Graduate School of Law).

4. Others: Sen. Rene Saguisag; Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.; Sec. Simeon Datumanong; and Manuel Lazaro (chair, Philippine Constitution Association).

Meanwhile, for the second hearing on February 2, Santiago said she will invite the BBL proponents; Chair Francisco Duque III of the Civil Service Commission; Chair Grace Pulido Tan of the Commission on Audit; Chair Loretta Ann Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights; Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. of the Commission on Elections; Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales; Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares; and Glen Pastorfide, who represents the ARMM employees association.

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