Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday said his proposed substitute bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBBL) will ensure a smooth transition from the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government to the proposed Bangsamoro government even if the bill is not approved by October this year.
Marcos, Chairman of the Committee on Local Government tasked to deliberate on the BBL, earlier said he will file the committee report on the substitute BBL on Monday but stressed he cannot predict how long it would take the Senate to approve the measure.
“Pagka lumabas na sa committee ko, it is out of my control. It is up to the Senate, up to the House and the bicam (bicameral conference committee). I will not make promises I cannot fulfill or I have no right to make,” Marcos explained.
If the BBL is not approved in time for the filling of certificates of candidacy (COCs) on October 12 to 16 this year, the ARRM elections will be held alongside the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.
“Kung wala pang BBL, magpapa file ang members of the assembly to run again for the ARMM assembly because the Bangsamoro government does not exist by then,” Marcos explained.
The situation becomes complicated, according to Marcos, if the BBL is approved after the ARMM elections are held, or when the official campaign period for ARMM has started, since the BBL calls for the abolition of ARMM.
“Once the BBL is enacted into law, ARMM will be abolished and the Bangsamoro government will then sit in the form of a transition authority. Isinama na namin sa transition authority ang mga elected ARMM assemblymen so the phase out of ARMM is not too sudden,” Marcos said.
Likewise, Marcos said he cannot guarantee the enactment of BBL within the term of the current administration. He noted that legislative deliberations are unpredictable, and pointed out that several groups have vowed to challenge the measure before the Supreme Court once it becomes a law.
“Hindi natin masasabi kung ano ang mangyayari, yung mga challenges sa Supreme Court, how long that will take, kung mananalo, kung matatalo. It is very hard to pin it down. As I said, ang maipapangako ko for sure is on Monday, the Committee Report will be filed,” Marcos said.
Assuming BBL is not passed within the term of the current administration, Marcos said it can simply be re-filed in the next Congress where the deliberations need not go back to square one.
“We have a new rule that was adopted in the last Congress, that we can take note of the findings in previous hearings on the same subject, kaya hindi na kailangang ulitin,” Marcos pointed out.
Meanwhile, Marcos also said he also ensured the substitute BBL provides protection to the estimated 26,000 public servants who would be displaced with the abolition of ARMM.
“Wala tayong magagawa, because if they abolish the offices--- and they will abolish the offices of ARMM----e wala nang item yung mga civil servants. Kaya tanggal sila sa serbisyo,” Marcos said.
“We want to make sure that they will have all the guarantees that the Civil Service Code grants them, most importantly the security of tenure and also length of service,” he added.
Noting that many teachers in ARMM would be displaced with the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, Marcos said they should be given first crack for the same positions that would be opened under the new regional government.
On the other hand, Marcos said that those who would not be absorbed under the new Bangsamoro government and would opt for early retirement should get all the benefits due them.
“Kung mag-e-early retirement sila, ang calculation ng kanilang pension is from the length of service. We have to make sure that mako-consider yung talagang buong length of service nila,” Marcos said.
The Senate debates on the proposed BBL is expected to go into full swing next week, a day or two after Marcos files the committee report on the proposed law.