GMA News Online - Marcos scraps P17-B development fund for Bangsamoro government

10 August 2015

Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez | GMA News Online

gmanewsonline_logoSenator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. scrapped a provision in the Malacañang-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law that would grant the envisioned territory billions intended for rehabilitation and development programs of the Bangsamoro government.

The BBL version proposed by the Aquino administration provides a Special Development Fund amounting to P17 billion.

Under the original draft bill, P7 billion shall be allocated for the first year following the ratification of the BBL. Another P10 billion shall be regularly released in the next five years in amounts of P2 billion.

The said provision was deleted in the committee report, which contains the substitute bill Marcos proposed as chairman of the Senate committee on local government.

Senate Bill 2894, under Committee Report 200, now called the "Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region," is 100 pages long and contains 17 articles and 215 sections.

The initial funding of P1 billion to carry out the transition to a Bangsamoro government was retained in the substitute bill.

Senator Marcos also included a provision on the normalization of communites in the envisioned Bangsamoro region, which will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Marcos earlier said that the normalization aspect of the peace agreement, signed by the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), should be included as a major provision of the BBL instead of being a mere annex to the framework agreement.

The normalization provision includes the decommissiong of MILF forces, which entails the process of disarmament, demobilization, reinsertion and reintegration.

Opt-in provision, sharing on natural resources scrapped

Also scrapped is the opt-in provision, which allows the expansion of the Bangsamoro area provided that a plebiscite is held to join the new political entity.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, a close ally of President Benigno Aquino III.

Marcos also deleted several provisions under natural resources creating Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf.

Under the government's proposal, the national and Bangsamoro governments shall work together to regulate the waters that comprise the Zones of Joint Cooperation.

Furthermore, the Joint Body for the Zones of Joint Cooperation shall ensure the coordination between the two governments on the exploration, development and utilization of non-living resources, and likewise determine the sharing of income and revenues derived therefrom.

Sultanate's rights, security of tenure

Meanwhile, Senator Marcos added a provision that would recognize the rights of sultanates.

"It shall adopt measures for the promotion and protection of the sultanates’ rights, including their right to their traditional native title of sultanship, their right to political participation in the Bangsamoro Regional Government, including reserved seats in the Parliament," the provision states.

Marcos earlier said the aim of his committee report is to make the BBL an inclusive measure.

The substitute bill likewise has provisions that would protect the security of tenure of government personnel to be affected as a consequence of the establishment of a Bangsamoro government.

"The gap in the length of service by reason of involuntary separation of an employee as a consequence of the reorganization of the Bangsamoro Regional Government shall not interrupt the continuity of the employee’s service," it added.

The committee report also does not explicitly state that the first elections for the Bangsamoro government shall be conducted in May 2016 contrary to the Malacañang draft.

Marcos' committee report provides that the first elections shall be held 180 days after the ratification of the BBL.

The senator earlier said he cannot guarantee that the BBL will be passed under the Aquino administration.

A total of 17 senators have signed the committee report, pushing the substitute bill to the Senate plenary for further deliberation.