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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House, Senate zero in on contentious BBL provisions
10 July 2018 02:57:04 PM

The bicameral conference committee composed of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate tackled 14 of the 18 articles of their respective Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) proposals, House Bill 6475 and Senate Bill 1717, in the committee’s first day of deliberations on Monday to reconcile disagreeing provisions.

The deliberations were presided jointly by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The panel tabled contentious issues for later review and discussion, and approved the creation of subcommittees to fine-tune and amend certain provisions.

A subcommittee shall tackle the specific geographical area and territorial jurisdiction of the region under Articles III and XV of the House and Senate BBL proposals. Only Section 1 of Article III, which provides a definition of the region’s geographical jurisdiction, received approval subject to style. The subcommittee shall be composed of Fariñas and Zubiri, as well as Representatives Khalid Dimaporo, Abdullah Dimaporo, and Celso Lobregat and Senator Sonny Angara.

A group composed of Representatives Arthur Defensor, Jr., Khalid Dimaporo, and Amihilda Sangcopan and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III shall work on Article V, which outlines the powers granted to the Bangsamoro government. Further, Zubiri assured that the new provision will not dilute the powers granted to the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao by Republic Act 9054.

Another small group was established to tackle Sections 5 to 10 of Article VII, which covers the Bangsamoro government. The sections cover the Bangsamoro Parliament, particularly its composition; classification and allocation of seats; election of reserved seats for non-Moro indigenous peoples; election of representatives of the settlers, women, youth, and traditional leaders; regional parties; and redistricting. The subcommittee shall be composed of Representatives Defensor and Sangcopan with Senators Francis Escudero, Pimentel, and Risa Hontiveros.

Article X, which provides for the justice system and Shari’ah courts in the Bangsamoro government, shall be fine-tuned by a subcommittee composed of Representatives Eugene De Vera, Mauyag Papandayan Jr., and Rodante Marcoleta with Senator Franklin Drilon, for ratification by the Conference Committee.

Another group shall work on provisions of Article XII regarding taxation and other fiscal matters. Fariñas stressed the recommendations by the Department of Finance, citing Local Government Code 133 on situations when certain taxes may be levied by the local government unit and when the same may be levied by the regional government. The body includes Representatives Wilter Wee Palma II and Juan Pablo Bondoc and Senators Angara and Hontiveros.

Article XI, which covers public order, national defense and security, and coastguard matters, shall be discussed by Representatives Romeo Acop and Leopoldo Bataoil, with Senator Zubiri. The group shall discuss whether the creation of the Bangsamoro Regional Police (BRP) must be provided for in the BBL vis-a-vis the mandate of the Philippine National Police.

Meanwhile, an omnibus amendment was agreed upon by the conference committee to qualify the BBL as an organic law of the Bangsamoro in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Tabled discussions include the provision of Article 14, General Principles and Policies, on self-governance. Fariñas noted that in European states, provisions specifying “self-determination” served as a jump-off point to secession and statehood. However, other members of the panel moved to retain the phrase as it aligns with the concept of autonomy.

Moreover, the conference committee struck certain provisions from the proposals. These include a provision that no party representatives should be related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to a district representative or another party representative in the same parliament. The panel also deleted the enumeration of basic rights in the region under Article IX, given that these rights are already fundamentally provided for by the Constitution.

The conference committee aims to come up with a clean bill to be ratified by July 23, 2018 when the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress convenes. / CMB Engracia