The Daily Tribute - Senate panel also sees Charter breach in BBL

In The News
16 December 2014

By Angie M. Rosales | The Daily Tribute

TribuneThe Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) containing provisions which are largely unconstitutional was bolstered yesterday by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos as he cited the same basis the Supreme Court used in declaring the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MoA-AD) as being present in the bill.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government which oversees the deliberations of the measure that will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity also seconded the contention aired by House counterparts.

The House ad hoc committee on BBL also expressed belief that some provisions in the proposed law to create the substate may be deemed unconstitutional.

House committee chairman Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said his panel is seriously considering the concerns raised against some provisions in the BBL that may be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC), such as allowing other areas outside the Bangsamoro territory to also join the entity upon a petition of at least 10 percent of the constituents; creation of an internal audit body aside from the Commission on Audit (CoA); the duplication of the power of the Ombudsman to probe its officials; the establishment of its own civil service, its own human rights body, and its own poll body that would oversee elections in the substate. Marcos highlighted the grounds used by the Supreme Court in declaring as unconstitutional the MoA-AD which was the agreement signed during the term of President Arroyo that sought to create the Bangsamoro juridical entity saying some of the attributes are also present in the BBL.

“There are several (that formed) the grounds the SC used in MOA-AD that made the agreement unconstitutional. In other words, there were attributes that if they were present, constituted as sovereign state. They cited those four attributes. That could be a source of problems,” the senator told reporters “The other constistutional question is, because we are a unitary and Republican state, their government is patterned after a parliamentary and ministerial form, so how can these be reconciled?” he asked.

Marcos said the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), in a position paper, also cited several constitutional questions. On top of these, there are some “administrative” concerns also facing legal issues.

“The administrative (issues), we are already discussing that. Even if we sort things out, if its constitutionality is not addressed, it will result in nothing. We should settle the constitutionality question first then we can talk of sharing of wealth, sharing of powers etc.,” he said.

Marcos remained optimistic though that the legal questions can be settled at the committee level and need not be brought before the SC. “What we will do is just fix (the provisions) so there would be no grounds for (questions on the BBL’s unconcstitutionality),” he said. “After hearing the positions of some agencies, I see that there is a valid reason to question some BBL provisions,” Rodriguez said in a radio interview.

Rodriguez was particularly concerned about the provision on continuing membership which would allow adjacent provinces to join the Bangsamoro region with a vote of only ten percent of its people.

“This (provision on continuing membership) will have to be discussed by the seventy-five-member committee. The other one (concern) is that in the BBL, there is a provision that the Bangsamoro will create it’s own internal audit body. So we are reminded to remove that because under the Constitution we should have only one Commission on Audit. One national audit that cannot be delegated to a regional audit body,” Rodriguez stressed.

Rodriguez also noted the concern raised by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales that the Ombudsman is the only body authorized by the Constitution to investigate criminal and administrative offences by public officials. “Ombudsman (Conchita Carpio-Morales) said that the discipline of public officials cannot in anyway be given to the civil service that will be established by the Bangsamoro because the Ombudsman is a constitutional body and they are the only one authorized to investigate criminal and administrative offenses of public officials,” Rodriguez pointed out.

“Anybody who will be in government, the Bangsamoro government is part of the government of the Republic of the Philippines. They will be under the Civil Service Commission. Under the bill, there is an authority for the Bangsamoro parliament to establish its own civil service,” Rodriguez said.

The Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said that there are also questions raised on the issue of the Bangsamoro poll body which would be against the mandate of the Commission on Elections.