Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said that not only were major stakeholders left out in the process leading to the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, but there was no serious study too on BBL’s impact on business and economy.
Marcos, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, aired this concern in his speech before the 5th General Meeting of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.
The senator thanked the business group for inviting him to speak before them on BBL, as he noted that this “very serious concern and an inescapable tope of all BBL-related discussions” has yet to be tackled in the hearing of his committee.
“Sadly, not even our Government panel was able to convincingly show that this point had been thoroughly discussed and analysed when they prepared the draft of the BBL with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” Marcos said.
He said this is the reason why he has scheduled a hearing on June 2, to get inputs from key government agencies as such as the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority), the Dept. of Finance, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Customs, the Dept. of Trade and Industry, Dept. of Labor, the Bangko Sentral, the Mindanao Development
Authority, and concerned private sector groups like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Marcos also deplored the lack of educational campaign to inform the people about the impact of BBL, unlike what was done in the push for independence of Scotland from England.
He noted that BBL could provide the Bangsamoro government powers broader than those the present ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) now wields, “capable of influencing market behavior in the affected communities, and can dictate the pace and sway of the economy.”
Among others, the draft BBL grants the Bangsamoro government powers of taxation; regulation of trade, industry and investment and regulation of business; labor and employment; regulation of local power generation, distribution and transmission; agriculture and food security; land management and housing; regulation of public utilities and regulation of the financial and banking system.
Yet, Marcos said it is unclear if the government has been able to assess, among others, the impact of possible labor diaspora as a result of a change in market behaviour, as well as a study on the capacity of adjacent local government units to absorb the changes in Mindanao market or even the business and credit implications of Islamic finance and banking in the affected areas.
Marcos stressed that he is not questioning the capacity of the Bangsamoro for self-governance. However, he said he could not help but think of these scenarios in the BBL-related deliberations.
“At any rate, the main point that I am driving at is that Government should at least have studied these possible scenarios and duly presented their findings to the public, reasonably prior to subjecting them to the routine process of a plebiscite,” Marcos said.
What makes matters worse, according to Marcos, is the insistence of Malacanang to hurry the passage of BBL by June 10, the last sessionday before Congress adjourns sine die.
“With such a fixed deadline and a tight schedule, how do we possibly prepare and ensure a reasoned and informed electorate that can prudently absorb and digest all these important repercussions about their development and their future?” Marcos said.
As part of his stand to consult all the stakeholders on BBL, Marcos has devoted the last hearing of his panel on June 3 to hear the views of the local executives in the core areas of Bangsamoro and adjacent territories.
He reiterated that without addressing the concerns of the major stakeholders and earning the support of the public, it would be difficult for the peace process in Mindanao to succeed.
This is the reason, Marcos said, why his top priority is “to get it right” with meeting Malacanang’s June 10 deadline “a far second”.