Senate panel promises to drop controversial provisions of BBL
JUST like the House of Representatives, the Senate Committee on Local Government will also drop some provisions in the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law to remedy perceived violations of the Constitution, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Monday.
Marcos said the provisions to be deleted in the Senate version of the bill are the ones allowing the creation of Bangsamoro constitutional bodies, like a Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit and the Civil Service Commission, and another one allowing the creation of a Bangsamoro Police Force.
A third provision, the one on wealth-sharing, will be amended so that the right of other local government units to a share of the national income.
Marcos said he will also propose the inclusion of a provision requiring Bangsamoro officials to pledge allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and 1987 Constitution, as provided in a provision of the organic law of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“I will introduce it as an amendment. Now we return to BBL the provision in the ARMM organic law that they continue to pledge allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and that it will not be used as a first step for secession,” Marcos said.
The senator stressed that people should be disabused of the belief that the BBL will be a “magic pill” that will cure all the problems of Mindanao.
“I think that is our point that has been already raised, that we have raised many times. We go back and we have said that we have to take another perspective on this, and understand that BBL in and of itself is not that magic bullet, or magic pill that will fix all our problems,” Marcos said.
“There are still many other issues that must be discussed,” he added.
Marcos announced the looming changes to the BBL after congressmen revealed that nine provisions in the draft BBL will be dropped from the House version of the law.
Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco announced that the controversial provisions should be deleted and if the MILF claims that is unacceptable “then game over.”
Cojuangco said congressmen also want to delete the provisions allowing the creation of the Bangsamoro’s own Comelec, COA and CSC plus the provisions allowing the creation of the Bangsamoro’s own Commission on Human Rights and Ombudsman.
The House version will also strike out the provision requiring the President to coordinate military operations with Bangsamoro leaders and the one empowering the Bangsamoro chief minister to have control of the police force.
The congressman also did not agree that the Bangsamoro should have a different form of government from the national government and that areas outside of the Bangsamoro should be allowed to hold a plebiscite so that they can join the new entity.
Marcos expressed concern that provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law would make it appear that if “you are at war with the government, we will pay you a huge amount. We will give you many advantages.”
“That’s why I was joking that I will separate the Ilocano nation so we can also have P75 billion a year. Although it’s just a joke, that is the thinking,” said Marcos.
While government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer insisted that the Bangsamoro government has a budget of only P35 billion, senators however pointed out it would be getting a P75 billion allocation a year.
Marcos said was even much bigger than the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
“So why are you rewarding? And the other local government units (LGUs) are saying that should not be the case,” he said.