Manila Bulletin – Bongbong eyes BBL amendments to protect 36,000 ARMM employees

By Ellson Quismorio | Manila Bulletin

ManilaBulletinOnlineSenator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. is pushing for amendments to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in a bid to protect the jobs of 36,000 employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Marcos aired this necessity during the public hearing on BBL conducted on Tuesday in Tawi-Tawi.

“I think we can strengthen the language [of the BBL] so that the guarantees are made explicit,” he said.

“We need not re-state the guarantees as laid out in the Civil Service Code but we can probably say that the guarantees on tenure, pay grade, etc. are maintained in this reorganization,” he added.

Section 9 of Article 16 of the proposed law states that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) “shall schedule the gradual phasing out of offices in the ARMM, which are deemed abolished upon the ratification of the BBL.” This, the Ilocano Senator said, is “where the worries are coming from.”

“That’s why the BBL should be clear and explicit in protecting the interest of the workers by expressing that all the compensation and benefits under the Civil Service Code and other laws will be given,” Marcos said, clarifying that not all but most of the offices will be abolished.

The controversial BBL will serve as the enabling measure for the creation of the Bangsamoro sub-state in the Muslim south, replacing the ARMM. The change is hoped to bring peace and prosperity to Mindanao after decades of secessionism.

The proposed law is the product of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which was signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) amid much celebration last March 27.

GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, who negotiated peace with the rebel faction, said that laws regarding security of tenure, benefits, retirement and other policies will be applied in the reorganization of ARMM. She added that the existing laws protecting the welfare of employees to be affected by the reorganization would likewise be observed in ARMM.

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