Sen. Bongbong could amend ARMM law as substitute for draft BBL

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, today said one option he is considering in crafting a substitute to the flaw-ridden draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is to simply amend the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

 Earlier, Sen. Bongbong said in a privilege speech that he could not support the draft BBL as its flaws could only lead the country to perdition.  The Senator said he would prepare a substitute bill that addresses the concern not only of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front but also those of the other major stakeholders.

 “I think there are systemic weaknesses in the ARMM system. So what do we do? We fix it. There’s no need to throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say. We look at the system, see where the failings are, the weaknesses are, and fix those,” Sen. Bongbong said.

 “We have amended already the organic law for ARMM once. That was a step in the right direction. So let’s make more steps in the right direction,” he added.

 Sen. Bongbong said amending the ARMM law would address one of the constitutional problem of creating a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao that some legal experts said is not allowed.

 “And so a solution around that will be to say this is merely an amendment of the existing law. That dispenses with that argument questioning the constitutionality of the law,” the Senator said.

 He also said that after the last BBL hearing of his panel on June 9, he would buckle down to start writing the substitute bill when Congress adjourns sine die on June 11. Upon completion, Sen. Bongbong said he would provide all the committee members his proposals to study, even before the resumption of session.

 As a matter of procedure in crafting the substitute bill, Sen. Bongbong said he would first address the constitutional issues in the draft BBL and try to remedy them.

 Next, he is to tackle the administrative and the political issues, specifically the matter of power-sharing between the national government and the Bangsamoro regional government.

 Sen. Bongbong said he would also address the economic issues, including the controversial provisions on taxation and share in the national wealth.

 “It has to be shown what justifies the differences in the share in national wealth and the share in taxes between our local government units and the Bangsamoro government,” Sen. Bongbong said.

 “We need to show what justifies the huge difference in the share of taxes and in revenues from exploration of natural resources between regular local government units and the Bangsamoro government,” he added.

 The Senator noted that under the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro government will retain 100 percent of taxes collected within their jurisdiction. In contrast, other LGU’s remit to the  national government all internal revenue taxes collected in their area and it will return to them in the form of IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) where they will get a 40 percent share, while the national government will get 60 percent. 

 In the case of national wealth taxes, local government share is 40 percent, but Bangsamoro will get 75 percent.

 Sen. Bongbong said he will try to address in the substitute bill the various issues raised against the draft BBL to ensure the version he would present to the plenary would not only stand the test of constitutionality, address the concern of major stakeholders, and practical enough to work towards the goal of achieving a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.

 “We are creating an entirely unique form of local government which we never conceived of before. And so that is why we have to be very very careful in what we are doing because we might cause more problems than we are trying to solve.”

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