The government is giving up more than an arm and a leg in the forming of the Bangsamoro substate in an agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) based on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that President Aquino personally submitted to Congress yesterday for enactment which will notably seek to set up a distinct parliamentary form of government for the proposed territory, with a lot of independent powers besides.
The Bangsamoro government will be headed by a Chief Minister called a Wali who will head a parliament of at least 60 representatives.
The proposed substate will cover the present geographical area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; parts of Lanao del Norte, and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.
The BBL also provides that other local government units where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters can be part of the substate at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the BBL.
Aside from having their own government, their own flag and own police force, Bangsamoro residents are guaranteed under the section on “Bangsamoro Participation in Central Government” of “at least one Cabinet Secretary; at least one official in each of the other departments, offices and bureaus, holding executive, primarily confidential, highly technical, policy-determining positions; and one Commissioner in each constitutional bodies (such as the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit).
The substate is also guaranteed a four percent share of the yearly collections of the Bureau Internal Revenue (BIR) aside from getting 75 percent of all central government tax collections within the territory.
The draft law also stated the Bangsamoro substate will get as Special Development Fund P7 billion for rehabilitation and development purposes upon the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, P10 billion on the second year to be paid out over five years and P2 billion a year thereafter.
The transmittal of the draft law was apparently timed for the European tour of President Aquino this week as he said he will carry the achievement on the peace pact in his European visits.
Aquino said he would banner the BBL to country leaders as proof to the development of the peace processes in the country. adding that it is an opportunity to share the improvements on pushing lasting peace for
“I will tell them that, while our success is not complete yet, we are all confident that our collective efforts toward a more progressive and more peaceful
Aquino said enough time was poured in drafting the bill to ensure both parties have reached agreement and to bring ease to transition for the Moros in
The President assured the public that the BBL is in accordance with the agreement between the parties, and was crafted to be fairly and justly for all.
“Now that we have a proposed bill, I fully believe that it is in accordance with our Constitution and with the principles of our Framework Agreement, and that it reflects our shared efforts towards growth that leaves no one behind,” he said.
Aquino called on the public to continue camaraderie and to support the passage of the bill, admitting that the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been stagnant. He said the Filipino people should take the opportunity to take part in achieving peace by backing up the bill in Congress.
“Instead of choosing to spread negative news and unfounded assumptions about our southernmost region, let us harness our knowledge and time to fully understand the history, culture, and narratives of our fellow countrymen,” Aquino said.
President Aquino said that once Congress passes the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a plebiscite will follow for the people of the Bangsamoro to vote for their authorities. He pleaded to the voters to study the provisions of the Law.
“Your understanding and your participation will be the best defense against those who seek to sow doubt in our agenda of a just and lasting peace. These will give you an even greater ability to take part in the transition to a strong Bangsamoro government in 2016,” he said.
Aquino met with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad last week to seek clarification and resolution on issues prior to submitting the draft bill to Congress.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. earlier confirmed that the parties met to address details on the implementation of the peace agreement. Coloma said both leaders deemed it urgent and important that this draft Bangsamoro law be completed.
The submission to Congress is seen as significant as it means Aquino and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed, after months of tense talks, on the entire legal underpinning for Muslim self-governance in the southern region of Mindanao.
He called for the passage “at the soonest possible time” of the proposed law that would have MILF leaders governing a region comprising about 10 percent of the
Aquino said this would improve the lives of millions of Filipino Muslims who are among the poorest inhabitants of the largely Catholic nation of 100 million people.
Under the timetable of a peace pact, the law is meant to be passed before the end of this year, giving Aquino time to put in place a regional government before his six-year term ends in mid-2016.
Once the law is passed, its residents would have to endorse it in a plebiscite scheduled for 2015.
The agreement separately calls on the MILF to disarm under supervision by international monitors.
Both Senate President Franklin Drilon and opposition Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jnr. said the bill has broad support, though they warned there may not be enough time for it to pass this year.
“This is an opportunity for us to find true and lasting peace. Nobody that I know of would want to squander this opportunity,” said Marcos.
The rebellion began more than 40 years ago when Marcos’ late father Ferdinand Marcos Snr. was president, and has since claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The 10,000-strong MILF is worried over delays in drafting the bill, but trusts it will be passed within the agreed timetable, its chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said.
The United Nations office in
“This is a critical milestone in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and a crucial achievement in ensuring lasting peace and sustainable development in Mindanao and in the wider
Aquino is also scheduled to meet with members of the majority coalition in the House today to get their support for the swift passage of the proposed law.
According to House Majority Leader Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II the meeting will be held in Malacañang at 10:00 a.m. today with the members of the Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), National Unity Party (NUP), and party-list bloc led by Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
“The President will make a personal appeal for us to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law. There will be a larger ceremony on Friday after today’s (Wednesday) submission of the BBL to Congress leaders,” said Gonzales.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also expressed optimism that the proposed BBL would finally put an end to the decades-long conflict in
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said the 125,000-strong military organization is fully supportive of the peace process between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF.
“We believe that the successful implementation of the peace process with the eventual establishment of the Bangsamoro will provide the political solution that will end the four-decade conflict in
Catapang said the AFP has always supported the Mindanao peace process knowing that the
“By enacting the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, a just and lasting peace will finally dawn in
“With this political solution, the sacrifices of more than 150,000 Filipinos who perished in this strife would not be in vain,” the AFP chief also said.
Catapang stressed that the decades-long conflict in
Despite the apparent delays in the proposed BBL’s submission to Congress and time constraint it’s facing for its approval into law, its enactment will not be rushed, Sen. Marcos Jr. said yesterday.
“We will study this proposal very carefully. We will not rush its submission to Congress. More important for us is the participation of stakeholders in
Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government, together with Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona as chair of the committee on peace and unification, will undertake the deliberations on the BBL in the upper chamber, which, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon, will be simultaneous with the lower house.
This is to ensure its plenary debates by Jan. and holding of plebiscite next year.
“Since the budget is already coming, we are already expecting to hold plenary debates on the budget by the third week of October and the whole of November , we will expect to tackle in plenary the BBL if it is finished in the committee level by December, but to be safe, probably in Jan.,” Drilon said, adding that the bill has a wide bipartisan support.
“One thing that we will closely look at is that is should fall within the four corners of the Constitution. The President has assured us that there is no need for constitutional amendments. This is one historic opportunity that we can’t afford to miss,” he added.
Guingona for his part committed to oversee the approval of the measure by his panel on time and ensure that the historic and landmark piece of legislation shall be completed and passed soonest.
“Today’s historical event is a major step forward by our country in our bid to recognize the right of our fellow Filipinos with a culture and history of their own as everyone else’s equal.
“This event is particularly significant to me both as a son of
While President Aquino assured the constitutionality of BBL, Marcos stressed that it is still up to Congress to determine if the Bangsamoro Basic Law is really beneficial to the people of
Marcos attended the ceremonies in Malacañang where members of the Bangsamoro Transitional Council, Peace Adviser Teresita Deles and Mohaqher Iqbal formally turned over the BBL to Aquino.
Despite the delay, he is confident that his committee will be able to finish consultations and hearings to submit a final committee report to Congress before the end of the first quarter next year.
He urged everyone, especially stakeholders in