Friday, September 4, 2015

MILF: Guingona champions need to bring back deleted BBL provisions in Senate version

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 4): Guingona champions need to bring back deleted BBL provisions in Senate version

Guingona champions need to bring back deleted BBL provisions in Senate version

During Wednesday's Senate plenary hearing on the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), the amended version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) authored by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. as Senate Committee on Local Government chair, Senator Teofisto “TG” D. Guingona III questioned the deletions from the original draft, which he believed were vital to the identity and operation of the autonomous region.

“My review of the BBL takes off from the following objectives: first, to highlight the primacy of the Constitution as basis and framework for the mandate of government in peace negotiations and creations of autonomous regions. Second is to acknowledge the nature, context, and significance of the draft BBL both as a legislative measure and a peace process instrument,” explained Guingona.

The lawmaker from Bukidnon began his interpellation by questioning the deletion of the preamble in the Senate BLBAR filed as Senate Bill No. 2894. Guingona argued that Republic Act No. 9054, the bill’s predecessor and the implementing law of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, also a carried a preamble and that had not been found as “constitutionally repugnant.” Republic Act 6734, which preceded R.A. 9054 and established the ARMM, also include a preamble or prefatory statement. 

Marcos explained that “constitutionality did not really come into the reasoning that led to the removal of the preamble.” He added that it was done to “remove any suspicion or fear that we are writing a constitution for a separate state.” Conversely, Guingona countered that a preamble is simply an “introductory statement” that “usually states the reasons or/and the intent of [a] law.”

“It would be helpful to have preamble because it will prevent confusion. A preamble is a statement of intent. If you are saying there are fears that [the Bangsamoro] might not be part of the Philippines, that this might be a first step [toward secession], then let us state ‘it is not so’ in the preamble,” added Guingona.

Matter of inland waters

“Inland waters jurisdiction has already been given over to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under R.A. 9054. This has been taken away in [the BLBAR],” said Guingona, adding that the 1987 Philippine Constitution also guarantees autonomous regions to have jurisdiction over natural resources such as inland waters.

Natural resources as well as economic development are among the legislative powers listed under Section 20, Article X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that can be vested by organic acts, such as the BBL and the BLBAR, to autonomous regions.

Marcos commented that his committee only intended to preserve the powers of local government units over inland waters as guided by the Local Government Code of 1991. He added that the Bangsamoro parliament, once established, could always pass laws that would enhance the regional government’s administration and management over inland waters.

However, Senate President Franklin Drilon, in his questioning, pointed out that authority was not given to the Bangsamoro government to amend the said code. “[The Bangsamoro] cannot transgress national laws. Therefore, I think we should already give them the jurisdiction over the preservation and management of inland waters,” Guingona seconded.

Other deletions grilled

Guingona directed his next questions on the deletion of provisions referring to the Shari’ah High Court. “From my review, I do not see anything unconstitutional in retaining the Shari’ah High Court.” 

Quoting the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the solon from Bukidnon explained that “judicial powers shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.”

Despite the name, the original draft of the BBL clearly stated that the decisions of the Shari’ah High Court are subject to the judicial review of the Supreme Court.

Marcos said that the deletion was motivated by an attempt to streamline operations and cut cost, citing the low number of cases shari’ah courts established under Presidential Decree No. 1083 have been receiving. “There is no legal principle we are trying to impose in the deletion of those provisions,” commented Marcos.

Guingona contradicted Marcos’ statements by highlighting that the establishment of the Shari’ah Courts was not a simple matter of case load. “The closest analogy is the Court of Tax Appeals because taxation, being a complex matter, Congress saw it fit to create a Court of Tax Appeals when we could have done without it with the presence of the Court of Appeals.”

“[Shari’ah law] is not just complex in terms of being technical, but there are cultural and religious aspects on this matter which the Court of Appeals justice may not be predisposed to handle,” added Guingona.

Moving on to the provision on the Special Development Fund (SDF), a P17 billion cash fund which will be disbursed to the Bangsamoro government by the national government for purposes of rehabilitation and development, Marcos admitted that he did not see the purpose for establishing such a fund.

Guingona, who hails from Mindanao, disputed that there was an actual and immediate need for the SDF. “I see a need and I see an opportunity: the need is that the [would-be Bangsamoro] is one of the poorest, if not the poorest areas in the country. The poverty is stark, illiteracy is high, and health conditions are below par. Clearly, there is a need.”

“Secondly, here we are creating a Bangsamoro autonomous region, a new entity. This is an opportunity. We do not want it to fail like ARMM. Therefore, if we just give them political autonomy without giving them the financial wherewithal, then we are just dooming them to failure,” Guingona continued.

“Their success in the Bangsamoro will be our success. Their success will be the success of this country,” he added.

GOCCs vs local enterprises

Guingona also asked Marcos why provisions on the creation of government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) had been deleted. “We shall say that whatever [the Bangsamoro government] passes, whatever they create shall be consistent with the Constitution, pertinent laws and Republic Act No. 10149, the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.”

Marcos yielded that the Bangsamoro, similar to local government units, could create economic enterprises. “What a local government does is create what we referred to as an economic enterprise. It is a financial operation where the local government makes money. Tourism, for example, a resort, a restaurant, whatever it is, development of a mall - that is an economic enterprise. And there is nothing that holds an LGU.”

Senator Ralph Recto, at this point, took the floor and offered an additional explanation. “But the only confusion again is: What is a GOCC? What is a local public enterprise? They are very similar. So, yes, local governments, and I think the Bangsamoro region should be allowed to create a local GOCC or a local public enterprise.”

“We must provide the Bangsamoro region with the legal authority to create whatever we want to call it, a GOCC, a local GOCC, or a local public enterprise,” Recto concluded.

After his interpellation, Guingona reserved the right to bring up the matters discussed in a future time. The Senate suspension was suspended until Monday, 7 September.

MILF: Senate and HoR to prioritize BBL before sessions end: Senate President Drilon

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 4): Senate and HoR to prioritize BBL before sessions end: Senate President Drilon

Senate and HoR to prioritize BBL before sessions end: Senate President Drilon

The Senate and the House of Representatives will prioritize the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before sessions end on October 10, Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday, September 3.

 “We will strive to pass this proposed law before the end of September”, Drilon told reporters after a meeting in Pasig City.

The BBL was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) created by President Benigno Aquino III under Executive Order No. 120, Series of 2014 and is based on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between  the Government of the Philippines (GPH)  and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. filed his own version of the BBL called BLBAR or Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region where 80% of the original provisions of the MalacaƱan-MILF agreed version were either, amended, revised or deleted. The MILF rejected Marcos’ bill saying it is not accordance with the letter and spirit of the FAB and the CAB.

Asked if the substitute bill would appear raw because the Senate would hasten its approval process, Drilon disagreed.

“This has been with us for months and it is currently in its period of interpellations”, Drilon said.

“Senator Bongbong’s defense is that his version of the bill is in accordance with the Constitution, and I think at the end of the day, everyone accepts that the BBL should be aligned with the Constitution for the sake of the whole nation”, Drilon added.

MILF: Sen. Marcos’ proposed BLBAR bill an ‘exercise in futility’: Atty. Saguisag

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 03): Sen. Marcos’ proposed BLBAR bill an ‘exercise in futility’: Atty. Saguisag

Sen. Marcos’ proposed BLBAR bill an ‘exercise in futility’: Atty. Saguisag

Atty. Rene Saguisag, former senator and human rights lawyer and who acts as legal counsel of the government peace panel said yesterday that the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), which Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has filed in the Senate to replace the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), is an “exercise in futility”.

Saguisag, a former senator who acts as the legal counsel of the government peace negotiating panel, has noted that the BLBAR has been “questioned by peace proponents and Bangsamoro stakeholders as it purportedly provides powers to the Bangsamoro less than what has already been devolved in the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).”

“Passing a BLBAR which would render the Bangsamoro weaker than the ARMM is an exercise in futility,” he said.

According to Saguisag, under Marcos’ BLBAR, or Senate Bill No. 2894, “[the] powers over the exploration, development and utilization of minerals have been removed from the regional government when the same is already being enjoyed by the ARMM.”

It also removed the Bangsamoro’s would-be control over inland waters, Saguisag said.
“The whole point of the Bangsamoro peace process is to learn from past mistakes in the ARMM and correct them, not repeat them,” he said.

Chief among these mistakes, he said, is the noncompletion of the devolution of legislative and fiscal powers, which were provided for in Republic Act No. 9054, or the organic act for the ARMM.

According to Saguisag, “passing a BBL that is faithful to both the 1987 Constitution and the genuine aspirations of the Bangsamoro for self-determination is the duty of every Filipino patriot.”

CPP/NDF/NPA: Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) – a Source of Corruption, a Tool for Election Campaign

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Sep 4): Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) – a Source of Corruption, a Tool for Election Campaign
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
New People’s Army
Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command
Central Panay

Media Statement
September 4, 2015

It has been almost two years since the devastation of typhoon Yolanda and yet the victims of the said typhoon are still shouting for a just assistance from the government of Benigno Aquino. Daily reports of complaints of the victims could be heard over radio stations. Aside from the delay in the distribution of assistance, ESA funds are also being used by politicians under the administration party to campaign for the upcoming elections.

In the midst of the furor over the distribution of the assistance, Aquino has taken no steps whatsoever to solve the problem. It would take just one order for him to solve this like his order to stop the random inspection of balikbayan boxes after strong protests from the OFW’s. He has remained deaf to the protests of the victims of Yolanda. This shows how inutile the Aquino government is. This is the true face of its “matuwid na daan program” – utter negligence to the interest of the people and wanton corruption.

In the midst of this continued criminal negligence of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, the Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command of the NPA-Central Panay warns all corrupt politicians to stop their anti-people maneuverings. It is also urging DSWD to hasten the distribution of the assistance to the victims and to do away with all the hindrances to its implementation like the Memorandum Circular 24 that they issued. Anybody who will continue to steal from the people’s money will answer to the revolutionary people’s court.

The Jose Percival Estocada, Jr. Command calls on the victims to file their complaints to the people’s revolutionary court. Send your complaints to: jpec or

Immediately and fully distribute the ESA!

 Junk Memorandum Circular #24!

 Down with the US-Aquino Regime!

Ka Jurie Guerrero
JPEC NPA-Central Panay

PH gov’t pushes for completion of Tripartite Review Process for MNLF peace deal

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 4): PH gov’t pushes for completion of Tripartite Review Process for MNLF peace deal

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, in a meeting Tuesday with foreign dignitaries whose countries are members of the Peace Committee of the Southern Philippines (PCSP) under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), called for the completion of the Tripartite Review Process on the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The OIC-PCSP is a body created by the OIC to oversee the implementation of the 1996 peace pact and is currently composed of Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya, Senegal, Somalia, and Bangladesh.

“As a lasting solution, we are pushing for the completion of the Tripartite Review Process. The Philippine government is fully committed to an inclusive and comprehensive approach on the quest for a just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” Deles said.

Deles challenged the OIC to “complete the review, otherwise, they will stay with the review process and will not implement anything.”

She also hoped that the review process started in 2007 will be put to a close before the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“If we can accomplish the review process, we can proceed to the implementation of agreements achieved in the review through the mechanisms under the single framework which is the Bangsamoro and the backbone of the single framework is the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” she stressed.

The peace process chief laid down the timeline for the enactment of the BBL and assured the OIC that the “government, especially the leadership of both chambers of Congress, is fully committed (to) its passage.”

Under the BBL framework, Deles explained that the engagement of the government and the MNLF will continue through the 42 consensus points now included in the BBL, the participation of MNLF in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and Bangsamoro Government to be established and the inclusion of the MNLF economic agenda in the Bangsamoro Development Plan.

The Administration of former President Fidel V. Ramos signed in 1996 the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the MNLF which resulted in the expansion of areas covered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the integration of MNLF members into the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police and the establishment of transitory mechanisms and special agencies for the development of Mindanao. (OPAPP)

Militant leaders seek SC help vs gov’t ‘harassment’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 3): Militant leaders seek SC help vs gov’t ‘harassment’

Members of various militant organizations on Thursday sought protection from the Supreme Court against harassment by the government.

Named respondents include President Benigno Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Hernando Iriberri, Major General Virgilio Hernandez, Deputy Commander for Intelligence of the AFP, ISAFP Chief Brig. General Arnold M. Quiapo, Philippine Army, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ricardo Marquez and NCRPO Chief Joel Pagdilao.
Aside from protection, petitioners also urged the high court to order respondents to disclose and give them copies of information, statements, records, photographs, dossiers gathered about them and to destroy such files.

Petitioners Dr. Darby Santiago, chairperson of the Health Alliance for Democracy Inc. (HEAD); Imelda Gerali, nurse and administrative officer of Samahang Operasyong Sagip, Inc. (SOS) and member of HEAD both received threatening text messages accusing them of being doctors of the New People’s Army in Northern Luzon.

Some of the messages from the number 09394363140 include “Nawala ako ng umaga saan ka dumaan? Ah, tinataguan mo ako ha? Teka si Dr. busy na busy sa DOH. Kaya pala hindi dumaan sa inaabangan ng mga ka-tropa ko hehehe.”
(I got lost in the morning, where did you pass by? You hid from me, huh? You seem too busy with DOH, doctor. That’s why you didn’t pass by where my men were waiting for you.)
From the same number, on July 10, Gerali received this message “hello friend busy ka kahapon kaya hindi mo ako napansin. Si Doc Darby guapo kahapon kaso late. The lady doctor was there too. Hinatid nga kita pauwi napansin mo ako (Hello, friend. You seemed busy yesterday, you didn’t notice me. Doc Darby looked handsome yesterday but he was late. The lady doctor was there too. I walked you home, did you notice) ?
…” Then, a follow up text saying “pssst…lingon naman dyan (hey, turn around)!”
Aside from the two, other petitioners include Rebecca Abelong, National Treasurer of Allied Workers Federation-KMU; Neil Ambion, media liaison officer of KMU; Renato Asa, secretary of KMU’s PIO; Loreto Victoriano, coordinator for Manila of KMU; Josephine Carlos Betana, chair of Caloocan City chapter of Migrante and Lovely Carbon and Jessica Ferrera of the National Union of Students of the Philippines and John Paul Lapid of Kabataan Partylist.
Abelong said a man who introduced himself as a member of Guardian went to the area where she lives and asked neighbors about her while Ambion said men who introduced themselves as members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) forced him to come with them to talk about security.
On the other hand, Asa said a man who introduced himself as member of the AFP gave him a mobile phone number and told him to accept the help they are offering or there may come a time when they won’t be able to help him.
The other respondents also said men were conducting surveillance around their house, work. Ferrera said the man who talked to her father even offered to help him get proper treatment if his daughter will help them.
“Taken together, the threats and surveillance activities portend a pattern: threats are made, often sent through text messages or anonymous correspondences alleging that the recipient are members of the NPA or the CPP and urging them to cooperate with the military in ambiguous terms,” the petition stated.
“Upon observing that the same pattern exists in the cases of petitioners herein, no other conclusion can be reached other than that their lives, security and liberty are under threat.  It is also obvious that the modus operandi manifest in the cited incidents establishes the participation of state forces, especially that of the military and police establishments. The military and police establishments’ participation in these harassments is also an indication that these are carried out pursuant to the internal security policy of the Government, the “Oplan Bayanihan,” petitioners said.

Australia warns against ‘militarization’ of South China Sea

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 4): Australia warns against ‘militarization’ of South China Sea

Severely critical of Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea, Australia on Wednesday warned against “intimidation and aggression” in the disputed waters and maintained that India’s role was crucial to stability in the Indian Ocean region.
Visiting Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews also called for deeper defense ties with “key strategic partner” India and pitched for a quadrilateral naval exercise with Japan and the US as was done in 2007.
Noting that both India and Australia border the Indian Ocean, he said they have a shared interest in the maintenance of freedom of navigation and trade.
“In fact, the world economy is fast becoming reliant upon Indian Ocean trade as its bulk cargo grows. Australia recognizes India’s critical role in supporting the security, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region and the stability of a wider, rules-based global order.
Concerned that “tensions in the Indo-Pacific persist, and in some cases are becoming more acute,” Andrews said Australia recognizes India’s “critical role” in supporting the security, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region.
“Territorial disputes continue to risk regional stability and create uncertainty. One issue that has attracted a lot of international attention in recent months is the South China Sea.
“Australia strongly opposes the use of intimidation, aggression or coercion to advance any country’s claims or to unilaterally alter the status quo. We are particularly concerned about the possible militarization of features in the South China Sea,” he said, delivering a lecture at Defense Ministry-run think tank IDSA.
Taking an apparent dig at China, he said turning a reef into a military airport is not in anyway enhancing the security and peace of that region.
China is said to be building an island at least 3,000 m long on Fiery Cross Reef that could be the site for its first airstrip in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Noting that the greatest danger is miscalculation rather than a nation deliberately taking aggressive action, he said, “China should make its strategic intent clear.”
South China Sea, a disputed area with China and several countries in the region including Vietnam and the Philippines staking territorial claims, is witnessing military tensions amid increasing Chinese assertiveness.