PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

RESISTANCE TO BBL RISES IN HOUSES OF CONGRESS
[Trillanes said the Senate should not be rushed into passing the BBL, which would create a new Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao. The massacre of 44 SAF troopers has raised fears over the powers the MILF stands to get under the BBL]


TRILLANES: –Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday said the peace process could wait until the next administration, vowing that the Senate would not create “that monster” critics feared might become of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) were passed in its present form. Trillanes, a key ally of President Aquino, said in a radio interview that Malacañang should not insist on its own timeline, especially now that emotions were high following the killing of 44 police commandos by MILF rebels and other Moro fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.  Sen. Serge Osmeña III, another Aquino ally, urged the President to apologize for the fiasco, saying he had “lost the trust of majority of the Filipino people.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino wants lawmakers to pass Bangsamoro law during his term [But should the MILF refuse to surrender their men involved in the clash, the bill would be put in even rougher waters in the chamber. It is not enough for MILF to surrender the SAF firearms because only 16 were returned, and some of these were even tampered - BBL Committee Chair.]


AQUINO: Lawmakers generally agreed with President Benigno Aquino III when he urged them in a meeting to support and pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during his administration. Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the ad hoc Bangsamoro committee tackling the BBL, revealed details of the Monday meeting of some lawmakers with the President and said the solons agreed to Aquino’s call to pass the BBL within his term, and not leave it hanging until the next administration.  “That was said, otherwise we do not know what the next administration will do (on the BBL),” Rodriguez said.  But a former soldier turned lawmaker said the President shouldn’t force a vote on the bill because of the public and lawmakers’ outrage over the clash that involved the main benefactor of the BBL, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in an attack against the Special Action Force (SAF) that left 44 cops and 18 Moro fighters dead. READ MORE...

ALSO MILF on BBL: Don’t set conditions; Iqbal: Don’t dictate, let’s negotiate [“We need to respect each other. When you make demands, you are no longer negotiating. You are dictating.” Iqbal]


Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA  MANILA, Philippins–“We need to respect each other. When you make demands, you are no longer negotiating. You are dictating.”   This was the reaction Tuesday of Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez setting conditions for the approval of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Iqbal welcomed statements by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday that the BBL could be approved by June and that Congress would respect agreements with the MILF.  But he warned in a phone interview with the Inquirer that “if the BBL is watered down, you will not be solving the problem.”   “Our relationship is based on the documents we signed,” Iqbal said, stressing that the many agreements have set protocols on how the parties would deal with one another. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senators resist Palace pressure
[“We have been facing this problem for 40 years and we should not rush things. We want a lasting peace in Mindanao and not the peace found by the fallen 44 in a memorial park,” Sotto said.]


POE ---THE Senate will not be stampeded into passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in a rush because lawmakers will have to make sure that the measure is “fair, inclusive and constitutional,” senators said on Tuesday.  Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said the chamber will not compromise a just BBL for the sake of expediency. “The version of BBL that we should pass should not just be for expediting the process, it should also be inclusive, it should be just, constitutional and equitable. The accomplishment of this will last many lifetimes, it’s a legacy that we should not really waste just for the sake of political expediency,” Poe added. The senator was reacting to reports that President Benigno Aquino 3rd wants the BBL passed before his term ends in 2016. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘BBL dead if not passed by June’; Despite lack of time, solons want every word reviewed


A HOUSE leader yesterday said the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is poised to die a natural death if Congress fails to approve it before the Second Regular Session adjourns sine die on June 11. Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, chair of the House ways and means committee, said it will be more difficult to pass the measure once it reaches the Third Regular Session which begins on July 27, the same day that President Aquino is set to deliver his final state of the nation address. Quimbo, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, said Congress will have its hands full during the Third Regular Session because many pending priority measures will have to be passed by then, especially the national budget for 2016. READ MORE...

ALSO: Mindanao executives oppose the huge P75-B Bangsamoro block grant from Aquino govt [The House member said local officials believe members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will dominate the envisioned Bangsamoro government and use the huge war chest to wipe out political rivals in future polls.]


File photo
MANILA, Philippines - Local officials in Mindanao oppose the automatic allocation of a multibillion-peso block grant to the envisioned Bangsamoro region. A leader of the House of Representatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several governors, mayors and other local officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed apprehension on the huge financial concessions reportedly totaling P75 billion during a meeting with lawmakers in Makati. “They (local officials) could not come out in the open because of reprisals from Malacañang, and with the elections just around the corner, funding for their projects could be withheld,” the lawmaker, who was present at the meeting, said. Among the lawmakers present was Senate committee on local government chairman Ferdinand Marcos Jr. READ MORE...

ALSO Marcos: Rushing BBL passage ‘could be a fatal waste’; 'measures should be based on crafting a good law, not by a deadline'


Senator Bongbong Marcos. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO  
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday said he would not be rushed to finish the hearings of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite the June target set by leaders of Congress. Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, maintained that his action on the measure will be based on his intention to craft a good law and not by a “deadline” set by other people. “Haste could be a fatal waste. The BBL is not a magic pill to stop the war in Mindanao, although it’s an important element in the quest for lasting peace. I will try to meet the proposed deadline. But I will not sacrifice the necessity of getting it right,” he said in a statement. The need to remedy the constitutional infirmities of the present draft BBL, he said, was one of the main reasons “why prudence is the better course of action than merely trying to meet an obviously short timetable.”  CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Resistance to BBL grows in Congress


SENATOR TRILLANES:

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (INQUIRER) Christian V. Esguerra and Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet –Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday said the peace process could wait until the next administration, vowing that the Senate would not create “that monster” critics feared might become of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) were passed in its present form.

Trillanes, a key ally of President Aquino, said in a radio interview that Malacañang should not insist on its own timeline, especially now that emotions were high following the killing of 44 police commandos by MILF rebels and other Moro fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III, another Aquino ally, urged the President to apologize for the fiasco, saying he had “lost the trust of majority of the Filipino people.”

“It would be better if he would say, ‘I am sorry,’ like what Gloria did,” he said over dzBB, recalling then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s own apology for phoning an election official in what later snowballed into the “Hello Garci” scandal.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez also said the House of Representatives would not vote on the BBL unless the MILF surrendered its people responsible for the brutal killings of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

“That’s really the deal breaker, if they will not cooperate to achieve justice in our country,” he said.

Trillanes said the Senate should not be rushed into passing the BBL, which would create a new Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao.

The massacre of 44 SAF troopers has raised fears over the powers the MILF stands to get under the BBL.

“We will make sure we will not create that monster that everyone is afraid of,” Trillanes said on dzBB, noting that the MILF should not be allowed to have its own security force “outside” of the Philippine National Police and the military.

Trillanes said he was consulting “privately” with the police and the military on how they felt about the BBL’s security provisions.

First look at BBL

The senator rejected the idea of the peace talks bogging down and hostilities erupting between the government and the MILF in case Congress did not pass a BBL version to the rebels’ liking.

“If they feel that the version coming out (of Congress) is not acceptable, it can be revised. Both panels can go back to the drawing board. Then (the talks) may spill over into the next administration for as long as the ceasefire, the peace talks are still in place,” Trillanes said.

I
AQUINO during the 29th EDSA mass

In his Edsa anniversary speech on Wednesday, the President was adamant on the passage of the proposed BBL despite the Mamasapano fiasco, saying there may not be a similar opportunity later on.

“To tell you honestly, this is the first time that both houses of Congress will see [the BBL] and we will be the ones to approve it,” Trillanes said, noting that Congress was not consulted while the draft was being prepared.

“This is our job. We cannot be just rubber stamps here…. Lasting peace (in Mindanao) should have no deadline. It should be approached cautiously, carefully.”

Osmeña said calls for Aquino’s ouster for mishandling the Mamasapano operation were “a very serious matter” because “it means they’ve had enough.”

But he rejected the idea of an ouster, saying “it’s better for us to be patient and let democracy work.”

Triple whammy

The senator said Aquino committed a “triple whammy”—first, by allowing suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima to direct the operation to capture terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and Basit Usman.

Second, he said, the President should have coursed instructions through the PNP’s chain of command, from the officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, to the SAF chief, Director Getulio Napeñas.

“No. 3 … how come (Interior) Secretary (Mar) Roxas and Espina were bypassed? That’s what I cannot understand. You don’t believe in them? They’re not trusted by your chain of command?” Osmeña said.

He warned against a “whitewash,” saying “the people would be angry at the Senate” in case the committee report on the Mamasapano incident skipped Aquino’s own accountability.

“Let’s see because they somehow control the Senate so there might be a whitewash. We will [be on the] lookout for that,” he said. “We have to be fair. There were many faults committed.”

Osmeña said the public would reject a whitewashed report on the Mamasapano incident.

“They have already decided on who were at fault here and unfortunately, you have to prove that you’re innocent now because you are already guilty as far as the Filipino people are concerned,” he said.

Demands for justice

Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said discussions on the proposed Bangsamoro charter could resume, but the vote should only be made after the Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed a case against the MILF.

“The congressmen are really demanding that the wheels of justice should already start. If the MILF will not surrender their people, there is a big possibility that the BBL will lose in the House of Representatives,” he said.

“They (MILF) can see the report and they can see the witnesses, the forensic evidence, the documentary evidence. There is probable cause. It is their obligation if they want to continue with the BBL, to cooperate with the DOJ,” Rodriguez said.

He said that submitting its men to justice was the single biggest confidence-building measure that the MILF could do to bring the peace process out of limbo.

Last week, MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal rejected calls for the MILF to give up its fighters, citing the ceasefire agreement with the government that the MILF should impose disciplinary action on members involved in any violation of the truce.

Little chance

But Rodriguez remained optimistic that the MILF Central Committee would eventually give in to the public’s demand for justice.

He noted that the MILF had also initially refused to return the SAF weapons and denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of Filipino bomber Basit Usman.

“Then the next thing, they returned the firearms and Iqbal promised that MILF will help in getting Usman. They are saying they will not surrender (their men) but the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” Rodriguez said.

With the DOJ expected to come out with its case on Mamasapano by April, Rodriguez said there was very little chance that the BBL could be passed in the House and the Senate by June when Congress was scheduled to adjourn. Rodriguez suggested that President Aquino call a special session for Congress to meet and approve the BBL before the start of its third session in July.


INQUIRER

Aquino urges lawmakers to pass Bangsamoro law during his term Marc Jayson Cayabyab @MJcayabyabINQ INQUIRER.net 7:24 PM | Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


Rufus Rodriguez Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Lawmakers generally agreed with President Benigno Aquino III when he urged them in a meeting to support and pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during his administration.

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the ad hoc Bangsamoro committee tackling the BBL, revealed details of the Monday meeting of some lawmakers with the President and said the solons agreed to Aquino’s call to pass the BBL within his term, and not leave it hanging until the next administration.

“That was said, otherwise we do not know what the next administration will do (on the BBL),” Rodriguez said.

But a former soldier turned lawmaker said the President shouldn’t force a vote on the bill because of the public and lawmakers’ outrage over the clash that involved the main benefactor of the BBL, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in an attack against the Special Action Force (SAF) that left 44 cops and 18 Moro fighters dead.

“In spite of what happened, the President said the BBL should be pushed through … I don’t agree. I stood up and asked: ‘Are we to proceed in spite of the fact that we’re not even certain on the intention of the MILF on the peace process?’” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said.

Rodriguez said Aquino wanted the bill to be passed in the committee on March 18, tackled in the plenary by May 4 after the chamber’s Holy Week break and passed for final reading on June 11 or before sine die adjournment.

But Alejano said government should not force the time table for the passage of the bill that seeks to implement the government peace deal with MILF for the creation of a more politically autonomous Bangsamoro entity.

“They’re sticking to the time table. I don’t agree … It’s not wise to push for the BBL in spite of the high emotions,” Alejano said.

‘Pleasant,’ ‘serious’ meeting

Rodriguez described Monday’s meeting as “pleasant” and “serious,” with the President very open about the details of his communication with resigned police chief Alan Purisima about the botched terrorist raid in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

“It’s very favorable. The President was very open to what happened. Everybody asked questions.

The President finished all the questions, he was even waiting kung mayroon pa,” Rodriguez said.

He added that the Bangsamoro ad hoc committee which he chairs could not force a vote on the BBL now because of the lost trust of lawmakers on the MILF and BBL.

With the panel set to resume hearings on March 3, Rodriguez said the MILF should comply with the following confidence-building measures for the BBL to hurdle the committee level—surrender the seized SAF firearms; surrender their fighters involved in the Mamasapano clash, and help the government take down local bombmaker Basit Usman, who escaped the operation that killed his superior Malaysian terrorist Zulkilfi bin Hir alias Marwan.

“We’ll resume just to have deliberations but we won’t put it into a vote. Because if we put it into a vote, there’s a possibility of losing the vote even in the committee because congressmen want to have three things to be done by the MILF,” he said.

But should the MILF refuse to surrender their men involved in the clash, Rodriguez said the bill would be put in even rougher waters in the chamber.

He added that it is not enough for MILF to surrender the SAF firearms because only 16 were returned, and some of these were even tampered.

“Delikado na sa vote. Tuloy sa discussion but I’m afraid that if the vote will be conducted, we’ll lose the vote,” Rodriguez said.

“The way I feel it, it’s all or nothing. We really have to do it. It’s the demand of the congressmen and the people at large,” he added.


INQUIRER

MILF on BBL: Don’t set conditions; Iqbal: Don’t dictate, let’s negotiate Gil C. Cabacungan, Leila B. Salaverria, Nikko Dizon | Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:09 AM | Wednesday, March 4th, 2015


Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

MANILA, Philippins–“We need to respect each other. When you make demands, you are no longer negotiating. You are dictating.” Iqbal

This was the reaction Tuesday of Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez setting conditions for the approval of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Iqbal welcomed statements by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday that the BBL could be approved by June and that Congress would respect agreements with the MILF.

But he warned in a phone interview with the Inquirer that “if the BBL is watered down, you will not be solving the problem.”

“Our relationship is based on the documents we signed,” Iqbal said, stressing that the many agreements have set protocols on how the parties would deal with one another.

Based on the signed agreements, Iqbal said, the MILF’s relationship with the government is “political and not legal.” Iqbal reminded lawmakers that the MILF remained a revolutionary group until the full realization of the peace agreement signed almost a year ago.

Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said on Monday that the passage of the measure seeking to create a substate in Mindanao would depend on the surrender of firearms seized by Moro fighters during the massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano on Jan. 25.

He also said the MILF should surrender its fighters involved in the slaughter of the SAF troopers and give up Filipino terrorist Basit Usman, who escaped the SAF raid in Maguindanao province.

P75B ‘pork barrel’

On Tuesday, Rodriguez and two other lawmakers—Representatives Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga province and Karlo Nograles of Davao province—said that the P75 billion proposed for the Bangsamoro entity was nothing but pork barrel funds that had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“There is no earmarking of projects; only the Bangsamoro parliament would decide how the funds would be used; and the funds would only be subject to post audit. This is very dangerous,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview.

“We will make sure that we will have control on how and where these funds would be spent, such as education and infrastructure,” he added.

Must be audited by COA

Rodriguez said that Congress would not agree to exempt the Bangsamoro substate from the Commission on Audit (COA) not only because it was unconstitutional but because it would leave massive government funds vulnerable to abuse.

Lobregat said that being “a lump-sum fund” not subject to the scrutiny of Congress, the P75-billion allocation would practically be a massive pork barrel fund for the 60-member Bangsamoro parliament which would decide how to spend these funds.

Lobregat noted that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) or the share of provinces, cities, towns and barangays (villages) from national tax revenues was subject to spending guidelines imposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on where and how much to spend.

In contrast, Lobregat said that the Bangsamoro lump sum was not covered by the DBM.

Nograles said that giving that much money to parliament would give incentive to adjacent localities to exercise their right to join the Bangsamoro through the opt-in provisions which required as little as 10 percent of the population to initiate a plebiscite.

“Will the Bangsamoro agree to be audited by COA or would they insist on having their own audit body? What sort of coordination would have to be made before the Bangsamoro would allow COA to look into its books?” Nograles asked at the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan” forum.

‘We can’t rush’

Passing a good version of the BBL is a more pressing concern than meeting other people’s timetables, according to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who heads the Senate committee hearing the bill.

Marcos plans to hold hearings on the proposed law even when Congress is on recess, but he said that he would first want to have the reports on investigations into the Mamasapano carnage by various agencies, including the Philippine National Police board of inquiry, the Senate and the MILF.

According to Marcos, the deliberations on the draft BBL could not be separated from the Mamasapano incident, because it brought up many issues covered by the proposed legislation.

“You can’t rush this. This is very important. We have to get it right, because if not, if the law is not good, it would just create trouble,” Marcos told reporters in an ambush interview.

But he also said the June deadline agreed on by Senate and House of Representatives leaders was “useful” and he would do his best to meet this.

Congress will go on a Lenten break starting March 20 and will resume sessions on May 4.

Legal and equitable

Sen. Grace Poe said that more than expediting the process of passing the proposed BBL, the Senate must ensure that the bill approved would be “constitutional and equitable.”

“We shouldn’t just rush it for the sake of passing the BBL, just to say we achieved something, right? The accomplishment of this will last many lifetimes, it’s a legacy that we should not really waste just for the sake of political expediency,” Poe told reporters.

Drilon, in an interview over ANC, said the standards to be used in measuring the BBL should be different from that used for the Mamasapano incident.

“The proposed BBL must strictly adhere and be consistent with the Constitution. Otherwise, we don’t see how it will pass with unconstitutional provisions. That is the standard we will use. It is different from the Mamasapano incident, which calls for a review of certain policies—who is at fault at what has transpired,” Drilon said.

Malacañang said Tuesday that communication and dialogue on the draft BBL were important.

No breakaway entity

“It is good to disclose or to surface all our apprehensions, the questions. And when these are disclosed and they are addressed and discussed, there will be clarity instead of just sticking to an inflexible position. All the concerns should be discussed as part of the democratic dialogue,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Coloma sought to allay fears that the BBL would create a “breakaway” security force under the MILF.

“No one’s thinking of having some sort of a breakaway entity here,” he said in Filipino.

“All government agencies or bodies that will be established…will be included in our national framework, and there is no intention to separate them or turn them into ‘breakaway’ bodies,” he added, citing the proposed auditing and civil service bodies within the Bangsamoro.–With a report from Christian V. Esguerra


MANILA TIMES

Senators resist Palace pressure March 3, 2015 11:19 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND REINA TOLENTINO REPORTERS


POE

THE Senate will not be stampeded into passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in a rush because lawmakers will have to make sure that the measure is “fair, inclusive and constitutional,” senators said on Tuesday.

Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said the chamber will not compromise a just BBL for the sake of expediency.

“The version of BBL that we should pass should not just be for expediting the process, it should also be inclusive, it should be just, constitutional and equitable. The accomplishment of this will last many lifetimes, it’s a legacy that we should not really waste just for the sake of political expediency,” Poe added.

The senator was reacting to reports that President Benigno Aquino 3rd wants the BBL passed before his term ends in 2016.

Acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd also vowed that he will not allow the BBL bill to be rushed.

He said the measure needs to be scrutinized to ensure that it will achieve its goal to provide lasting peace in Mindanao.

“We have been facing this problem for 40 years and we should not rush things. We want a lasting peace in Mindanao and not the peace found by the fallen 44 in a memorial park,” Sotto said.

The minority leader was referring to the 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while on a mission to capture terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

Sen. Francis Escudero, meanwhile, said it is not advisable to set a timeframe within which the BBL bill should be passed because there are many issues that need to be answered in the aftermath of the bloody clash.

“Are we talking to the right people or dealing with the entire community of the BBL area and its residents?” Escudero said. “I once said that I have doubts if the MILF can truly represent the BBL area and its residents, including the indigenous peoples, the Christians and other groups also endemic to the area.”

He insisted that the tragic incident raised the need to scrutinize the MILF’s capability to supervise and control its ranks.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said while every member of Congress is supportive of the peace process, he believes that legislators also want to ensure that the BBL will be a quality legislation that can really serve its purpose of providing lasting peace in Mindanao.

He added that Congress should choose quality over speed in dealing with the Bangsamoro law.

“We are not sure that BBL is really the solution in having peace in Mindanao that is why we need to scrutinize the measure thoroughly and carefully,” Cayetano said.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the committee on local government, admitted feeling some pressure but not because of Malacanang’s desire to fast-track passage of the BBL but in coming up with a good Bangsamoro law.

“My main concern is whether that’s going to fit in the timetables of other people, we cannot rush this [BBL]. This is very important that we need to get it right,” he said.

Marcos had vowed to conduct public hearings on the proposed BBL even if Congress is on a break in order to give lawmakers more time to study the measure and get inputs from stakeholders.

The Senate will adjourn on March 21 and sessions will resume on May 4. The chamber will adjourn sine die on June 11.

Marcos said even if the law is passed in June, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will need at least six months to prepare for a plebiscite.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito had expressed serious doubts on the chances of the BBL becoming a law during Aquino’s term.

“I also want to appeal to the members of the government peace panel and the MILF to stop blackmailing lawmakers that war may erupt if the BBL is not passed,” Ejercito said.

Voting Majority of the members of the House of Representatives also do not agree to pass the BBL bill “untouched.”

In fact, Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao said they may vote on the measure “provision by provision.”

In the Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum also on Tuesday, Nograles said they “foresee that they might have to [also] vote on it section by section.”

He, however, added that it is up to the chairman of the House panel on the BBL, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, to decide what procedure to adopt.

“Because there are different proponents, different congressmen, there are various inputs. I don’t know if that is the procedure that will be adopted by the chairman but there was a proposal that we do it that way. Because for example in Section 1, Congressman A wants this version while Congressman B wants that version, so if you cannot marry the two or three or four proposals then we’ll have to vote on it. That’s the rule, that’s how democracy works,” Nograles said.

But Rep. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga said they may even vote on the measure “word by word.”

Lobregat added that at least 80 percent of congressmen will not agree to an “untouched” BBL.

“I think all of us congressmen and congresswomen are all for peace. All of us also want a law, a Bangsamoro law that we imagine will usher in new era of peace for Mindanao. So there is really no one blocking the passage of a law here. Except that we, each of us, have our different concerns with the present version of the law,” he explained.

Dead by June? Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila) said Congress should have reached a decision by June, otherwise all discussions on the measure will be put to waste.

“ I personally think that if it is not passed before the June sine die break, that BBL is dead,” Quimbo told the Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum also on Tuesday.

The lawmaker said there is more than enough time to tackle the bill. Quimbo, chairman of the House ways and means committee, added that a timeline is needed to put in place the institutional reforms.


MALAYA

‘BBL dead if not passed by June’; Despite lack of time, solons want every word reviewed By WENDELL VIGILIA on March 04, 2015

A HOUSE leader yesterday said the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is poised to die a natural death if Congress fails to approve it before the Second Regular Session adjourns sine die on June 11.

Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, chair of the House ways and means committee, said it will be more difficult to pass the measure once it reaches the Third Regular Session which begins on July 27, the same day that President Aquino is set to deliver his final state of the nation address.

Quimbo, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, said Congress will have its hands full during the Third Regular Session because many pending priority measures will have to be passed by then, especially the national budget for 2016.

“Ako, I personally think that if it is not passed before the June sine die break, that (proposed) BBL is dead,” he told a weekly news forum at the Batasang Pambansa.

Quimbo also said approving the measure beyond June will be useless because the next administration may not be supportive of the measure.

“We need to pass the BBL by June, otherwise useless na ang lahat ng discussions kasi hindi na ma-implement ito,” he said.

House majority leader Neptali Gonzales Jr. on Monday said the House is still hoping to approve the BBL before June 11.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon have agreed to amend the proposed BBL to make sure it will be constitutional. This is despite pronouncements by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that it will not accept a diluted BBL, and President Aquino’s reported appeal to lawmakers not to alter the measure too much so that it will be acceptable to the MILF.

The BBL will pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro region, which is part of a peace agreement signed by government with the MILF last year. Deliberations on the BBL were put on hold following the January 25 clash between the PNP Special Action Force and MILF fighters supported by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Forty-four SAF commandos died in the clash in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

A source said the Palace is obviously using the Mamasapano incident as reason to suspend congressional deliberations, and eventually stop pushing for the passage of the measure. The same source said Malacañang had a change of heart after questions were raised on the constitutionality of various provisions in the BBL, during hearings in both houses of Congress. The source also said the Palace is just making it appear that it is still for the BBL’s passage so as not to anger the MILF.

Quimbo said the last two remaining session weeks will be enough to pass the measure – as long as the concerns of those opposing it are addressed.

“Sabi ho ng (House) leadership is kung may mga provisions diyan na hindi katanggap-tanggap because it’s unconstitutional, di tanggalin natin pero (yung) not to act on it (bill) is I think a disservice or a betrayal of our mandate,” he said.

Quimbo admitted, however, that the greatest challenge is for the government to ensure that justice will be served to the 44 SAF members.

WORD-FOR-WORD, LINE-BY-LINE REVIEW

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said majority of House members want to amend the BBL to ensure its constitutionality.

Nograles and Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat said members of the 75-man ad hoc committee chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, which has suspended BBL hearings, would review the measure “word for word” and “line by line” to ensure its constitutionality.

This could further delay the passage of the BBL.

“The lawmakers want to discuss it page by page. We have a lot of input and we will vote on the proposal. Some solons even proposed voting section by section,” Nograles said.

Lobregat, one of the most vocal critics of the bill, said the panel wants to push for a word-for-word review because a single word can have huge implications.

For one, the first line of the proposed BBL’s preamble reads: “We, the Bangsamoro people and other indigent and other indigenous people and other habitants.”

Lobregat said there was lengthy discussion in the committee level because not all citizens in the would-be Bangsamoro autonomous region should be called “Bangsamoro people.”

“Paano yung mga settlers? So you cannot put Christian settlers and other Filipinos (in the Bangsamoro region)? Tanggalin na lang lahat ang distinction so ‘we the Filipinos,’ yun lang (dapat),’” he said.

Rodriguez has acknowledged there is sufficient ground to question the legality of some provisions in the proposed law, particularly the one allowing contiguous territories which are outside the core areas of the Bangsamoro, to propose their inclusion in the region “at anytime” through a petition of at least 10 percent of the residents and approval by a majority of qualified voters in the city or province in a separate plebiscite.

He raised other issues, such as the Bangsamoro’s creation of its own internal audit body which could undermine the authority of the Commission on Audit; having the power to discipline its own officials and employees or a power, thereby limiting the powers of the Office of the Ombudsman; establishment of its own civil service and human rights bodies; and allowing the Bangsamoro to hold its own elections, among others.

BLOCK GRANTS

Lobregat, whose district could be part of the proposed territory, has long been against the government’s framework agreement with the MILF, saying “it did not refer to the Constitution as the guiding light.”

He also asked why the Bangsamoro will be provided with annual block grants, which he likened to a “lump sum.”

The block grant is 4 percent of the 60 percent total revenue collection of the national government.

The amount is expected to be at least P20 billion in 2016 when the Bangsamoro government is expected to be in place.

Lobregat said that unlike the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of the local government, the block grant will not be subjected to guidelines of the Department of Budget and Management.

“You can liken it to IRA but IRA is subjected to so many guidelines and regulations,” Lobregat said.

Nograles said the block grant raises the issue of equal treatment and equality of the law because other local government units (LGUs) do not have it.

“It would be very enticing for other localities and LGUs to join it (Bangsamoro region), especially the poorer ones,” he said.

TIGHT DEADLINE

The Senate committee on local governments will conduct hearings on the BBL even if Congress is on recess, said panel chair Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos said he is just waiting for results of investigations being conducted by the PNP board of inquiry, the MILF, and the Senate probe before resuming the hearings on the BBL.

The Senate will adjourn on March 21 until May 3 for a Lenten break and will resume session on May 4 until June 11.

He said while the “self-imposed deadline” for Congress to pass the BBL is so tight, he will try his best to meet the timetable.

“It’s always been tight…’Yung June, baka kakayanin pero titingnan natin,” Marcos said during an interview with Radyo 5 dwFM.

He said the Senate is behind the House (of Representatives) in terms of scheduling because his committee was not able to conduct hearings like scheduled hearings in Jolo and Zamboanga City.

Sen. JV Ejercito said he does not think the BBL will be passed soon.

“In my honest assessment, I don’t think it will pass based on my conversation with my colleagues, a lot of them are not supportive of BBL,” Ejercito said, reiterating that the Mamasapano incident is an eye-opener on what the dangers the BLL might pose.

He appealed to negotiators both from the MILF and the government not to “hostage” the legislators into passing the measure.

“Huwag naman nila kaming i-hostage. We legislators have the freedom to scrutinize, to study, pag-aaralan namin at bubusisiin (ang BBL). Huwag naman ganoon na palagi na lang tayo tinatakot ng MILF at peace panel (na) kapag hindi ipinasa yan, magkakagulo, giyera,” he said.

He said that if the measure will be put into plenary vote, he will vote against it. “May mga bagay akong gustong makita kung talagang seryoso sila.”

ESSENCE

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said reminded lawmakers of the appeal of President Aquino to ensure that the essence of the peace agreement between government and the MILF is retained in the BBL that will be passed.

He also said the President has not told lawmakers not to amend the BBL. But he confirmed reports that the President asked the House members “not too dilute” the BBL.

“Ang sinasabi lang naman ng Pangulo ay intindihin naman natin iyung buong sustansiya noong ating inihahain na BBL at ang kanyang panawagan lang naman sa mga mambabatas is: ‘Don’t dilute.’ Don’t dilute to such an extent na para bang nawala na iyung sustansiya noong CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) at noong FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro),” he said.

He also said the important thing is to ensure that the BBL conforms to the Constitution and is passed on time.

Coloma if it were up to Malacañang, it wants the BBL passed as soon as possible. But he said the Palace also recognizes procedures involved in passing a measure, like conducting public consultations.

The administration wants the BBL passed within the first quarter of 2015 to enable the holding of a plebiscite, the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority that will oversee the transition from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the new Bangsamoro region, and election of Bangsamoro officials in 2016. – With JP Lopez and Jocelyn Montemayor.-


PHILSTAR

Mindanao executives oppose P75-B Bangsamoro block grant By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2015 - 12:00am 8 213 googleplus0 0


File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Local officials in Mindanao oppose the automatic allocation of a multibillion-peso block grant to the envisioned Bangsamoro region.

A leader of the House of Representatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several governors, mayors and other local officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed apprehension on the huge financial concessions reportedly totaling P75 billion during a meeting with lawmakers in Makati.

“They (local officials) could not come out in the open because of reprisals from Malacañang, and with the elections just around the corner, funding for their projects could be withheld,” the lawmaker, who was present at the meeting, said.

Among the lawmakers present was Senate committee on local government chairman Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The House member said local officials believe members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will dominate the envisioned Bangsamoro government and use the huge war chest to wipe out political rivals in future polls.

“Unless you are chosen or appointed by the MILF, then you are wiped out,” the lawmaker said.

Local officials told the lawmakers the fund’s disbursement will be at the full discretion of the envisioned MILF-dominated autonomous government.

Depending on the government official or MILF leader speaking, the actual block grant amounts to P27 billion to P40 billion.

Augmenting the lump sum are the existing annual ARMM budget of P25 billion, a special development fund of P7 billion, proceeds from capital gains, donors and documentary stamp taxes; 100-percent share from non-metallic resources, shares from metallic resources, proceeds from energy exploration and proceeds from other taxes.

In separate statements, Reps. Lito Atienza of Buhay and Karlo Nograles of Davao City warned that the huge block grant is highly prone to abuse.

Atienza said the MILF wants their own audit agency to audit the funds of the envisioned autonomous region.

“We could be providing funds to further strengthen the armed capability of the MILF, especially that their decommissioning and disarmament is not guaranteed and automatic under the CAB,” he said. “So we will have the new Bangsamoro region with the MILF still fully armed.”

Gov. Mujiv Hataman denied that local officials in the ARMM are against the block grant.

“That’s not true,” he said. “This is no different from other automatic appropriations from Congress. The issue here is trust. It’s unfortunate that they just don’t trust us.” ..


INQUIRER

Marcos: Rushing BBL passage ‘could be a fatal waste’; Measures should be based crafting a good law, not by a deadline Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 5:16 PM | Thursday, March 5th, 2015


Senator Bongbong Marcos. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday said he would not be rushed to finish the hearings of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite the June target set by leaders of Congress.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, maintained that his action on the measure will be based on his intention to craft a good law and not by a “deadline” set by other people.

“Haste could be a fatal waste. The BBL is not a magic pill to stop the war in Mindanao, although it’s an important element in the quest for lasting peace. I will try to meet the proposed deadline. But I will not sacrifice the necessity of getting it right,” he said in a statement.

The need to remedy the constitutional infirmities of the present draft BBL, he said, was one of the main reasons “why prudence is the better course of action than merely trying to meet an obviously short timetable.”

Marcos pointed out that during a hearing conducted by the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, many of the legal luminaries opined that several provisions of the BBL were unconstitutional.

“Kaya talagang marami pa kaming trabaho para maayos at mawala ‘yung unconstitutional provisions (There is still much work for us to do to fix and remove the unconstitutional provisions),” he said.

Marcos suspended public hearings on the BBL after the January 25 Mamasapano clash where 44 Special Action Force commandos were killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

But before the BBL hearings can resume, he said he has yet to wait for the reports of the inquiries on the Mamasapano incident conducted separately by the police, the MILF, and the committee report of the Senate committee on public order chaired by Senator Grace Poe.

Marcos said there are also other “practical considerations” on governance and administration that need to be clarified.

“Sinasabi ko na noon bago pa ang Mamasapano, may mga problema ‘yan (BBL) sa administration, sa mga governance, at sa power-sharing. Buti naman at ‘yung ibang mga isyu ay napapag-usapan na. Pero ‘yun pa rin ay kailangan pa rin naming ayusin ‘yun,” he said in a radio interview.

(I already said even before the Mamasapano clash that there is a problem with the BBL when it comes to administration, governance and power-sharing. It’s a good thing that issues are now being tackled. But we still need to fix other issues.)

“So, titingnan natin at hindi naman siguro kailangan na sabihin na i-madali. Delikado ‘yang magmadali, dahil pag nagmamadali ay marami pang hindi maliwanag,” the senator added.

(So we’ll still see because I don’t think we need to rush it. Rushing it will be dangerous because there are still issues that need to be clarified.)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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