Zubiri presents proposed BBL to Senate
- Amita Legaspi, GMA News
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In his sponsorship speech, Zubiri said the new proposed BBL will give Moro people the capability to assert their political and economic self-determination and pursue development programs according to their peculiar historical, cultural, religious and national identities.
“The Senate, through this bill, now has this rare chance to give justice to the historical injustice in the Bangsamoro,” he said.
Under the bill, the core territory includes the present territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao plus six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, cities of Cotabato and Isabela, 39 barangays in North Cotabato, and other areas that may petition to join the Bangsamoro.
He noted that six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and the 39 barangays in North Cotabato have already voted yes in the 2001 plebiscite for inclusion in the ARMM.
However, due to a technical issue in the manner by which the plebiscite question was designed and the manner of appreciation of the majority of votes, they were not included as part of the ARMM as it then required them to obtain a double majority.
Zubiri said the bill proposes to address this by following the suggestion of Justice Adolf Azcuna during the hearing, by constituting the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato into geographic areas, so that they can give life to the provision of the 1987 Constitution on autonomy that allows municipalities and geographic areas to join the autonomous region.
“This too, will give life not only to the peace agreement we signed with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) but also to the MNLF (Moro Naational Liberation Front),” he said.
Under the bill, reserved powers are retained by the Central Government while the concurrent powers are shared by the Central Government and the Bangsamoro government. The BBL enumerates 14 powers exercised by both governments.
The constitutional offices in the Bangsamoro shall continue to remain under the direct control and supervision of its National Head Office.
To guard against allegations of rampant corruption in the ARMM, the BBL proposes to create Bangsamoro Auditing Office (BAO), which shall conduct pre-audit and post-audit aside from the regional office of the Commission on Audit in the Bangsamoro.
On the other hand, the exclusive powers that are granted the Bangsamoro which are essential to deliver services to its people and enable them to develop as communities such as agriculture, public administration, waste management, among others, will be left to the Bangsamoro government “which is closest to the ground.”
There will also be intergovernmental relations mechanisms or bodies to ensure coordination and cooperation between the Central Government and Bangsamoro government on matters such as environment, energy, fiscal, and natural resources, among others.
“In a more context-specific case for the Bangsamoro and the MILF, these mechanisms will allow them to transition in their assertion of their legitimate grievances from an armed struggle to a more democratic and peaceful means,” Zubiri said.
“The Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) mechanism is the venue for ventilating their issues and provide them a platform to continue their assertion and advocacy, but this time around, no longer by the power of the guns but by the power of the pen,” he added.
Zubiri said the Bangsamoro government, a parliamentary government, will be headed by the chief minister and supported by a cabinet.
He said the parliamentary system of government is closer to their tradition as it mirrors their traditional leadership such as the Ruma Bichara (Council) of the Sultanate of Sulu or the Atas (Council) Bichara of the Sultanate of Maguindanao.
“The parliamentary system with this innovative features of party representation, district representation, and reserved seats and sectoral representation ensures that no one is left behind. Everyone will have a voice in the Parliament,” he said.
Party representation, constituting 50 percent of the Parliament, will infuse new dynamics and hope in the Bangsamoro government, the bill said. Candidates will be voted on the basis of party platforms and programs and no longer based on popular personalities.
The reserved seats and sectoral representation, on the other hand, will ensure that marginalized sectors and other identities will have a voice in the parliament.
Zubiri said the proposed BBL includes a provision that penalizes the unprincipled transfer from one party to another.
“This bill proposes that if member of the parliament, after having been elected under the proportional representation system, transfers to another during his incumbency, he will forfeit his seat,” he said.
He added an anti-dynasty provision has also been included in the proposed law.
“No party representative should be related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to a district representative or another party representative in the same parliament,” Zubiri said.
Under the bill, the Bangsamoro Justice System will cover the implementation of the civil and commercial and minor criminal aspects of the Shariah law if the parties are Muslims or where parties have voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the Shariah court.
Regular courts will continue to function and allow for the other indigenous peoples in the region to continue to practice their customary laws.
“The justice system allows them to practice their religions and recognize the uniqueness of their culture and identity while maintaining the control and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over the Shariah Court system,” said Zubiri.
On public order and safety, the Bangsamoro Police will remain part of the Philippine National Police.
Zubiri said a block grant, consisting of six percent of the net collections both of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs, will be automatically appropriated and regularly released to the Bangsamoro akin to the system adopted for the internal revenue allotment of the local government units.
He said to further strengthen fiscal autonomy, the proposed BBL seeks to provide a share to the Bangsamoro in the taxes collected in the region as well as the revenue derived from exploration development and utilization of natural resources found therein.
He said for taxes the sharing is at 75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro and for fossil fuels the same will be divided equally.
“This will put a stop to their long standing grievance that we have been exploiting their resources such as Lake Lanao for power generation but that they have been deprived of the benefits that are derived from the exploitation of the resources found in their area,” the senator said.
Zubiri said the Special Development Fund of P100 billion is designed to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure in the region as a result of decades of war.
He said the fund will be released in 10 equal installments for a period of 10 years and will be utilized based on Development Plan crafted by them. “This fund will allow them also to catch up with the rest of the country.”
He said the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be the interim government and allows the MILF to transition from a rebel organization into governance through a peaceful democratic process.
While the BTA will be led by the MILF, other sectors in the Bangsamoro will be represented. The transition period under the proposed BBL will be for three years which will be a sufficient time to stabilize the region and hopefully kick start development and reforms, said Zubiri.