Press Release
May 27, 2015


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday announced that at least 11 other senators are supporting the view that the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should substantially be revised if it is to withstand legal scrutiny before the Supreme Court.

An overwhelming majority of the 14-member Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes signed the report Santiago, as chair, transmitted to the committee on local government, the primary committee contemplating the BBL.

Aside from Santiago, senators who signed the report were committee vice chair Koko Pimentel, acting minority leader Tito Sotto, and committee members Sonny Angara, Jinggoy Estrada, TG Guingona, Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Bongbong Marcos, and Cynthia Villar.

Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto and Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano, ex-officio members, also expressed their support for the report. This brings the total number of senators who signed the committee report to 12.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, another vice chair of the committee, is out of the country and had no chance to review the report. Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile, an ex-officio member, did not sign because he has not studied the matter fully, his staff said.

"By affixing their signatures in the committee report, senators are agreeing with the conclusion that the present BBL draft is essentially unconstitutional. I expect that more of my colleagues will adopt the same view on the Senate floor," Santiago said.

The senator in her committee report claimed that if approved in its present form, the draft BBL will be challenged in the Supreme Court for doubts on its constitutionality, particularly on issues of sovereignty, autonomy, the creation of a sub-state, and territorial integrity.

"The Bangsamoro Basic Law has much merit, but its promulgation requires constitutional amendment or revision; mere legislation will not suffice, and will spark Supreme Court litigation," said the report, which was released to the media last week.

To produce the report, Santiago's committee conducted two public hearings on the BBL. Resource persons included presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos Deles, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front leaders.

Santiago, considered the foremost constitutional expert in the Senate, also sought the opinion of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban; former Justices Florentino Feliciano and Vicente Mendoza; former UP Law Dean Merlin Magallona; and other experts.

The Santiago committee findings will either be consolidated with the reports of the committee on local government and the committee on peace, unification, and reconciliation, or adopted as an individual report. Either way, it is expected to form the basis of plenary debates.

The Palace hopes to pass the controversial measure before Congress adjourns sine die on June 10. At the House of Representatives, a BBL draft perceived to be the Malacañang version has hurdled the ad hoc committee and committee on ways and means.

The Senate is not as keen to rush approval, with the Marcos-led committee on local government slating a final hearing on June 3. After committee deliberations, the bill will enter a potentially grueling period of amendments, before being subjected to a plenary vote.

"Newspapers have predicted that the report of my committee will slow down Senate proceedings on the BBL draft. If so, then the report would have served its purpose. We need to consider the BBL with caution, not with haste," Santiago said.

Attached: Letter of transmittal, with signatures

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