By Hannah Torregoza | Manila Bulletin
After 12 lengthy public hearings and one briefing, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. finally submitted yesterday his committee report containing the substitute bill for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, named Senate Bill No. 2894, under Committee Report No. 200 as the proposed “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”
At least 17 senators signed the 100-page Marcos substitute bill which contains 17 articles and215 sections. They are Senators Teofisto Guingona III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, Paolo Aquino IV, Manuel Lapid, Loren Legarda, Juan Edgardo Angara, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe Llamanzares, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Alan Peter Cayetano, Gringo Honasan II, Ralph Recto, and Vicente Sotto III.
“In fulfillment of my promise and in compliance with our agreement during the (senators’) caucus last week, I filed today the substitute bill which I firmly believe will establish a strong mechanism for peace in Mindanao,” Marcos said in a statement.
Marcos said he will sponsor the bill on the Senate floor tomorrow, Wednesday and vowed to answer questions to be raised by his colleagues in the subsequent interpellation period.
“Majority of the senators signed. Some said they have many reservations, others said they will propose amendments,” Marcos told reporters after a closed-door meeting with senators.
He described the bill as an all-inclusive measure since it carried the applicable advocacies, positions, and proposals of all the stakeholders.
Apart from Marcos’ committee, the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago also conducted a separate hearing on the measure and issued a committee report finding the proposed BBL unconstitutional if passed in its present form.
Under Marcos’ proposed BBL, the geographical area of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region shall be composed of the present geographical area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, and any province or city which are contiguous and outside the geographical area of the present ARMM where there is resolution of the local government unit (LGU) 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 a plebiscite of the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro geographical area.
Under Article IV, Section 15 of the substitute bill, the Bangsamoro Regional Government is mandated to promote unity within the region by renouncing “war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”
Under Article V of the substitute bill, the national government shall exercise reserved powers over national defense, and internal and external security; foreign affairs, currency and policy direction in the areas of money, credit and banking; postal service; citizenship and naturalization; immigration and deportation; customs and tariff laws as qualified by Sec. 20 (8), Article V of this Basic Law; common market and global trade, provided, that the power to enter into economic agreements given to the ARMM under RA No. 9054 is hereby transferred to the Bangsamoro Regional Government as provided in Article XI, Section 146 of this Basic Law; intellectual property rights; supervision over banks and non-banks financial institutions under the jurisdiction of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); free ports; and all other powers and functions and responsibilities not granted by the 1987 Philippine Constitution or by law to the autonomous regions.
On the other hand, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) will be able to exercise its powers over agriculture, livestock, and food security; economic and cultural exchange; trade, industry, investment, enterprises and regulation of businesses taking into consideration relevant laws; labor, employment and occupation, among others.
The BAR can also barter trade and countertrade with Indonesia, Malaysia, or Brunei subject to existing laws; exercise its powers over its economic zones and industrial centers; tourism; creation of sources of revenue; and budgeting.
Marcos held hearings in Cotabato City, Marawi City, Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, and Zamboanga City during the committee deliberations.
Aside from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government panel that negotiated peace with the MILF, he also consulted with representatives of different stakeholders like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Sultanate of Sulu, the indigenous people, religious groups, youth groups, legal luminaries, labor and peasant groups, local government units, and other concerned organizations.
“The number of hearings and resource persons speak for themselves. Contrary to the accusation that I was delaying the BBL, I, in fact, focused on it and we even worked during the recess (of the Senate). I’m confident that I will be vindicated by my proposed measure,” he said.
Marcos said the number of hearings and the extensive public participation in the process would prove the meticulous scrutiny of the BBL.
“My legislative staff and I really worked on it and we did everything we could in order to ensure that the substitute bill can and will stand constitutional challenges. Also, we put things we deemed necessary so that it will be accepted by the people and will lay the groundwork for peace in Mindanao,” he said.
Marcos said his colleagues were not surprised at all that 80 percent of the provisions of the measure were amended.
“But even then, the original intent is very much preserved. It is filed now. The committee report is filed…I will sponsor on Wednesday, we will start next week the interpellation which is the next phase,” he said.