By Aries Joseph Hegina | INQUIRER.net
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Senate local government committee chair Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said Wednesday that the politically autonomous Bangsamoro entity is prone to gerrymandering, or the creation of new districts by manipulating territorial boundaries, unless a limit on the number of districts apportioned will be imposed.
Marcos said that the limitation should be enshrined in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to not repeat the mistakes currently faced by the House of Representatives.
“This was a lesson learned from pure experience from serving at the House of Representatives. Avoid some of the headaches we have been going through,” Marcos said to the Mindanao leaders who attended the first public hearing of the BBL at Notre Dame University here.
As stated in the BBL, parliamentary districts could be formed if a district has a population of 100,000 people.
Aside from the provision on population, no other conditions on the formation of districts have been stipulated in the proposed law.
Several provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) are said to be “confusing” as said by various Mindanao leaders during the committee hearing.
Marcos said that several provisions concerning the administration and territorial boundaries of villages and towns are not practical and should be probed further.
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” J. Taliño-Mendoza said that administrative lapses may stem from the annexation of 39 barangays (villages) of the province to Bangsamoro. She said that these villages are not even contiguous to territories under Bangsamoro.
Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, who also presided the hearing, said that the annexation of the 39 barangays of North Cotabato to Bangsamoro may spell isolation and alienation.
Under Article III, Section 3 of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, “areas which are contiguous and outside the core territory may opt at any time to be part of the territory upon petition of at least ten (10 percent) of the registered voters and approved by a majority of qualified votes cast in a plebiscite.”
The Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is a result of 17 years of negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was transmitted to Congress last September 10.