Last BBL hearing to tackle taxation, control over resources, and other thorny issues

7 June 2015

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said the last hearing of his committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on June 9 will focus on the controversial issues of taxation as well as the control and management of natural resources in Bangsamoro territory, specifically Lake Lanao.

Also slated for discussion in the hearing on Tuesday are the implications of the proposed law on business, and trade, finance, health and women issues.

“I have to call another hearing because many of our resource persons invited in our hearing on June 2 were not able to speak and provide us their inputs for lack of material time,” said Marcos, Chairman of the Local Government Committee tasked to deliberate on the BBL.

“We have to give them an opportunity to be heard too as the issues they would discuss are no less important than the previous ones we have tackled,” he added.

After the hearing, Marcos said he could buckle down to the task of writing the committee report that would address the flaws of the draft BBL.

In the hearing last June 2, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has objected to the tax privileges granted to the Bangsamoro regional government under the draft BBL. She also confirmed that under the BBL, the Bangsamoro government would retain all taxes collected.

“If you read the law, on sharing, everything we will collect from Bangsamoro will go to them, so what sharing do we have to discuss? Everything will go to them,” Henares told the committee.

Marcos noted that no other local government in the country, including the poorest ones, enjoys such privilege. In addition he said the Bangsamoro stands to get an estimated P75 billion in subsidy in grants, including a block grant of around P27 billion in 2016.

However, he noted that because the discussions on June 2 centered mostly on police and security concerns, Commissioner Henares and other resource persons did not have enough time to complete their testimonies.

Marcos said the hearing on Tuesday will discuss the concerns raised over the provision in the draft BBL on the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro over inland waters, specifically the 350-square kilometer Lake Lanao that lies between Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.

According to official data, the six hydroelectric dams built on the lake’s outlet, Agus River, produces 680 megawatts, estimated to supply more than 60 percent of the energy requirement of entire Mindanao area.

Marcos said that aside from possible conflict with the constitution, the provision giving the Bangsamoro jurisdiction over the major energy source of Mindanao has serious security as well as business implications.

Aside from this, Marcos said he hopes hear from business leaders in the country what their views are on the implications of the establishment of a Bangsamoro autonomous government on business and trade, finance and economy not only of Mindanao but of the entire country as well.

Marcos earlier said there was an apparent dearth of study on the economic impacts of BBL.

Among those invited to the hearing are representatives from BIR, the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic Development Authority, Commission on Audit, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and Mindanao Development Authority.

To represent the private business sector are the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Philippine Industries, Inc.

Also invited to the hearing are representatives from the Department of Health and from the women’s sector, like the Women and Gender Institute, and the Philippine Commission on Women.

Marcos earlier said he could not support the draft BBL as it is riddled with flaws and could only cause more trouble for the entire country.

Instead, Marcos said he is preparing a substitute bill that will withstand constitutional challenge, address the concern of major stakeholders, and will work toward s achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.