Tuesday August 14, 2018

House joint panel approves report on BBL

MANILA. The Bangsamoro Transition Committee submits the proposed BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte in this file photo taken in August 2017. (File Photo)

(UPDATED) - Three House committees have approved the committee report on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), bringing Congress a step closer to enacting the measure.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said they hope to approve House Bill 6475 by May 30.

"Kailangang ma-aprove namin itong BBL by May 30 (We hope to approve BBL by May 30)," Fariñas said.

The House committee on Muslim affairs voted 27-2; the special committee on peace, unity and reconciliation voted 27-3; while the committee on local government voted 32-3 on the motion of Representative Jose Christopher "Kit" Belmonte to approve the bill without amendments.

Among those who dissented were Zamboanga 1st District Rep. Celso Lobregat, Lanao del Norte 1st District Rep. Mohammad Khalid Dimaporo and 2nd District Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo.

Fariñas said all the concerns of the opposing camps will be heard in the upcoming all-party caucus on HB 6475, before the plenary deliberates on the bill.

The approval of the committee report came weeks after the said committees adopted HB 6475 as its version of the BBL. The bill is authored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Alvarez's bill is also the same as the BBL version submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to the Congress.

The draft BBL, crafted by the 21-man transition commission, was submitted to Duterte on July 27, 2017 and forwarded to Congress in August the same year.

The proposed Moro law aims to create a new Bangsamoro entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region on the Muslim Mindanao and "solve the root causes of the Moro rebellion and address the historical injustice suffered by the Bangsamoro over generations."

It is part of the implementation process of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014.

Lobregat said he voted no as what the country needs now is a Bangsamoro law that is "just" and "consistent with the Constitution and the existing laws."

Mohammad Dimaporo, for his part, said the contents of HB 6475 "does not reflect the position of the president and the executive branch in regards to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)."

HB 6475 calls for the creation of a Bangsamoro Police for law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro but it shall be part of the PNP.

Article 11 section 8 of the said bill accords the chief minister the power to "employ and deploy elements, assign and reassign the Bangsamoro police through the Bangsamoro police director."

"This provision distorts the command authority of Camp Crame over the Bangsamoro police," said Mohammad.

The lawmaker further said, "HB 6475 is detrimental to my province — the province of Lanao del Norte."

The lawmaker mentioned that during previous public hearings on the BBL, local resolutions have been submitted stating that four out of six municipalities in his province are not willing to be part of Bangsamoro.

HB 6475 delineates the core territory of the Bangsamoro to be composed of: 1) the present geographical area of the ARMM; 2) the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagolan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; 3) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; and 4) all other contiguous areas where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.

Abdullah Dimaporo, also a Lanao del Norte representative, said what his province wants is long-lasting peace.

"What we see in this is a short term peace," he said, further adding that war between Christians and Muslims may arise since the six municipalities included in the Bangsamoro such as Lanao del Norte are 65 percent Christian and 35 percent Muslim.

Shernee Abubakar Tan of the Party List Kausug-Tausug voted no and is seeking the amendment of the provision regarding plebiscite.

Section 4 of the HB 6375 states that five years after the ratification of the BBL, and every five years therafter for a period of 25 years, a plebescite shall be held in cities, municipalities and other areas which were not able to join the Bangsamoro to determine whether or not they desire to join the Bangsamoro.

"We have to consider that the provinces of Lanao, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi voted to be included in the ARMM and not in any other entity," added Tan.

She said the House of Representatives should consult again these provinces and give them the freedom to choose whether they want to be included in the BBL or not. (SunStar Philippines)