PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

INCOGNITO BID DELAYS BBL VOTE; AQUINO ALLIES WANT TO HIDE THEIR VOTES


MAY 11 ---Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez -
- The scheduled voting on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was suspended yesterday, further delaying the deliberations on the Palace-backed bill, which ironically was caused by President Aquino’s allies’ insistence to hide their votes. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, however, gave an excuse that the panel’s vote on the BBL which will determine whether the bill goes to plenary or the second reading was suspended to give way to a “period of amendments” for the contentious sections of the proposed measure. Rodriguez, however, admitted that the proposal to hold the voting on the draft bill secretly through an executive session took most of the time of the proceeding. The panel convened at 1:30 pm in executive session. It later opened its doors to the public an hour later. Present at the closed-door session were Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II. Rodriguez announced that as of 3 p.m., some 56 Ad Hoc panel and ex-officio members were present in the hearing. Aquino, in an interview with reporters on board the presidential plane bringing him back to Manila from a state visit in Canada, claimed Rodriguez “already assured him of the BBL’s approval either today or tomorrow.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Vote on BBL postponed, reset, made open


MAY 12 ---Vote postponed. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, head of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, bangs the gavel to start the voting for the passage of the proposed law in the House of Representatives Monday. The vote has been rescheduled for today. Lino Santos 
THE 75-man ad hoc panel tasked to scrutinize the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) reset the vote it was supposed to take on Monday and decided to open to public the session on proposed amendments and the actual voting on the measure today. The vote was originally scheduled to be taken at 4 p.m. Monday, but Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the panel chairman, said it had to be re-scheduled because the panel still has to make way for individual amendments to the measure. Rodriguez also shot down earlier proposals to hold secret voting on the measure even as hundreds of supporters of the BBL gathered at the gate of the House of Representatives to pressure lawmakers to pass the controversial measure. Each member of the panel is allowed to introduce amendments to House Bill No. 4994 provision by provision of the 101-page bill. The leader of the independent minority bloc, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, welcomed the open voting process for the sake of transparency. “We should allow the public to witness the crucial voting for this very controversial peace of legislation,” Romualdez said.  READ MORE...

ALSO: LP version of BBL set to pacify MILF
[VOTING DEFERRED FURTHER TO NEXT WEEK]


MAY 13 ---LP AND LEADER OF THE HOUSE BELMONTE  A compromise version of the BBL prepared by the administration’s Liberal Party (LP) is being shoved into the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) resulting in voting on the bill seeking to create the Bangsamoro substate to be stalled anew and deferred to next week.
The Palace is whipping its alliance in the House of Representatives to deal with the possible refusal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to accept a slew of amendments introduced by the members of the ad hoc committee. The LP version of the bill is a compromise to accommodate the MILF’s position but which has posed another delay to the voting of the bill. A highly placed source from the panel said that the voting should have been done yesterday as Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, announced. “But we have not met today,” the source, a lawyer, said yesterday. He explained that problems in the introduction of the amendments could be easily ironed out between and among officials of the government. “Why the sudden postponement of the meeting?” the same source said, adding that there could also be some problems in the “numbers” who would vote for the measure. Rodriguez, on Monday, said they would vote on the measure yesterday.READ MORE...

Uncertainty of passage delays BBL vote further


MAY 13 ---Forum. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. seems to be amused by a question from the media following the postponement of the voting on the Bangsamoro Basic Law during a forum in Congress on Tuesday. Lino Santos
THE independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives said Tuesday House leaders might not have enough support from lawmakers to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The bloc’s leader, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, said the decision of the 75-man ad hoc panel to defer the voting on the BBL was triggered by the lack of support from House members to approve the draft bill being pushed by the administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “This development indicates that the House majority has no solid numbers to pass the BBL because even their allies believe that Congress should not hurry the approval of a very vital and important measure,” said Romualdez. “Congress should not pass the BBL under duress.”  “While we support peace with the MILF, the measure must be approved in consonance with the Constitution and existing laws. The strong clamor to deliver justice for the victims of Mamasapano clash remains and the government and the MILF must ensure that this requirement is met,” Romualdez added.  Nevertheless, Romualdez said the move of the ad hoc panel, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, to reset the voting next week was “a laudable act to allow members to study the proposed amendments.”  This developed as House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. played down reports that the House leadership does not have enough number of votes to pass the BBL.  “I am certain we have the numbers. More than that, we have to polish everything,” Belmonte told reporters. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senate holding BBL hearings in Mindanao


MAY 13 --On this GMA News photo Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (right) shares a light moment with MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal before the resumption of the Senate inquiry on the Bangsamoro Basic Law on Monday, April 13. Marcos, chairman of the committee on local government, earlier said that he would ask Iqbal about his true name after learning that the latter only used his pseudonym in signing the peace agreements with the Philippine government. Benjie Castro With only 13 days of regular sessions left before adjourning sine die on June 12, the Senate Local Government Committee will hold two public hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Jolo, Sulu, and Zamboanga City starting tomorrow.
“I made a promise to the people of Jolo and Zamboanga that they will have a chance to air their views on the BBL and so we set these hearings to fulfill that promise,” Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., committee chairman, said. Marcos said his committee will also have another public hearing to get the side of the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), then headed by University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Nur Misuari who signed a peace accord with the Ramos administration in 1996. “So after that, before the end of the month, we would likely complete our hearings and the committee would probably be ready by then to write the version that we will present to the rest of the senators,” Marcos explained. The Jolo and Zamboanga hearings will be held in the same week the special committee of the House of Representatives gears up to vote on the final version of BBL it would present to the plenary. READ MORE...

ALSO: ARMM peace groups call for 'neutral' BBL consultation


MAY 13 ---The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the region, located in the Mindanao island group of the Philippines, that is composed of predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. The only region that has its own government, ARMM’s regional capital is Cotabato City, although this city is outside of its jurisdiction. Google Search  Images  COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Peace activists in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao urged Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to repeat in a neutral ground the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law consultation he presided over in Jolo, Sulu on Wednesday. Local peace advocates told reporters via text messages that the venue of Wednesday’s consultation, Sulu’s provincial capitol, was inappropriate owing to the strong opposition of Sulu’s political kingpin, Vice Gov. Hadji Sakur Tan, to the draft BBL. “It was held in an area where the political power of our provincial vice governor emanates,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified. A school official, who requested anonymity, said last year’s congressional dialogue with Sulu’s sectoral leaders on the draft BBL in the same venue was not as productive since most participants were apprehensive to express support to the draft BBL. “The consultations by Congress and Senate should have been held outside of the Sulu provincial capitol,” the education official pointed out. Peace advocacy groups in ARMM want Marcos to repeat the draft BBL consultation in a venue far from the Sulu capitol to ensure maximum participation of stakeholders. READ MORE...

No more BBL, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law has a new name: “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”  


MAY 13 ---On this Sept 12, 2014 photo: President Aquino smiles as Mohagher Iqbal (left), chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, hands over the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Senate President Franklin Drilon in Malacañang on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. At right is Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. The BBL will redraw the map of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and nearby areas, as it aims to establish a larger, self-governing region. AFP  The House of Representatives ad hoc Bangsamoro committee has consolidated the amendments of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which will be up for voting next week. According to the amended draft of the Bangsamoro basic bill released to the media on Wednesday, the proposed measure is no longer called BBL. It was renamed “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.” Unconstitutional provisions The panel deleted from the draft the contentious provisions creating the Bangsamoro’s own Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Audit and Bangsamoro Civil Service Office. Panel chair Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said these Bangsamoro bodies usurp the constitutional powers of its national counterparts. Likewise deleted is the creation of a Bangsamoro Police Board, which was supposed to be the Bangsamoro’s version of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) which receives complaints on police personnel. It will instead be called the Regional Police Commission under the administration and control of the Napolcom. Also deleted from the bill is the opt in provision which allows contiguous areas outside the Bangsamoro core territory to be part of the Bangsamoro territory upon a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters and approved by majority of qualified votes in a plebiscite. Lawmakers warned the provision may result in a creeping expansion. READ MORE...

 

ALSO PHILSTAR Commentary: Okay BBL as is, or pass to next admin


MAY 14 ---By Federico D. Pascual Jr
TO SPARE the nation further stress brought on by the bitter disagreements on the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro federal state in Muslim Mindanao, let us choose quickly one of two final options: • Pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law as originally submitted by Malacañang and its partner the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), then test its constitutionality before the Supreme Court. • Or wind up the congressional hearings, drop the BBL measure and leave the matter to the next administration to act upon. Either way, the BBL distraction is pushed out of the way. The Aquino administration would then have no more excuse for not attending to the litany of here-and-now problems as listed yesterday by our colleague Jarius Bondoc. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front will reject a watered down BBL anyway. There is, therefore, no point in quarreling over substantive amendments and rushing the bill’s approval before the Congress adjourns its current session on June 12.

Forewarned, the military, the police and civilian militia should prepare for the intensified hostilities that the revolutionary MILF has threatened to launch if the government does not give it the Bangsamoro intact as promised by Malacañang. MILF, KL now know they’ve been had BY THIS TIME, the MILF must have realized that it was hoodwinked by Malacañang into thinking it was negotiating as the “GRP” (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) although it was just a third leg of a tripartite structure. The mere fact that the Congress is massively rewriting the BBL draft and the Supreme Court is waiting to rule on its constitutionality should impress on the MILF and its principals in Kuala Lumpur that Malacañang and its varsity team are not the “GRP” they had claimed to be. As early as now, meanwhile, charges can be readied for filing against treasonous officials selling Central Mindanao and Sulu to local agents of Malaysia in the guise of searching for peace. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Incognito bid delays BBL vote Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez

NOY, PALACE STEP UP PRESSURE ON HOUSE

MANILA, MAY 18, 2015 (TRIBUNE) By Gerry Baldo and Joshua L. Labonera - The scheduled voting on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was suspended yesterday, further delaying the deliberations on the Palace-backed bill, which ironically was caused by President Aquino’s allies’ insistence to hide their votes.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, however, gave an excuse that the panel’s vote on the BBL which will determine whether the bill goes to plenary or the second reading was suspended to give way to a “period of amendments” for the contentious sections of the proposed measure. Rodriguez, however, admitted that the proposal to hold the voting on the draft bill secretly through an executive session took most of the time of the proceeding.

The panel convened at 1:30 pm in executive session. It later opened its doors to the public an hour later.

Present at the closed-door session were Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II. Rodriguez announced that as of 3 p.m., some 56 Ad Hoc panel and ex-officio members were present in the hearing.

Aquino, in an interview with reporters on board the presidential plane bringing him back to Manila from a state visit in Canada, claimed Rodriguez “already assured him of the BBL’s approval either today or tomorrow.”


Toronto – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines, are greeted by members of Canada’s Filipino community upon their arrival at Roy Thomson Hall for a special event celebrating President Aquino's visit to Canada. (PMO photo by Jason Ransom)

READ MORE...
“Congressman Rufus texted me. I think their committee is supposed to finish the deliberations and report their findings with some amendments by May 11 or 12,” Aquino said.

“I keep pushing them that the value of this is – the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) – is able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their new governance mode, otherwise (it would) be too late in the day,” Aquino pointed out.

He added that if the BTA will be given a chance to perform only in January 2016 then “there is very little thing they’ll be able to do.”

The President, however, did not speak on other parts of the bill that were earlier questioned as unconstitutional.

Malacañang earlier warned against a watered down version of the bill.

The ad hoc panel spent time debating on a proposal to keep the voting in executive session which was junked by a majority of the panel members.

“Maybe they are wary of how their vote will be received by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or the administration,” he pointed out.

When Rodriguez was asked who were the lawmakers demanding an executive session for the vote, he refused to identify them but said they are mostly members of the administration coalition.
It is widely known that the Palace has a marching order to its allies in both chambers of Congress to pass the BBL at all cost before the current legislative session ends on June 11 but the members of the ruling party coalition in the House are apparently apprehensive of the public backlash of favoring the BBL primarily among those seeking re-election next year.

The committee will vote per provision before voting on the bill in its entirety. The BBL has about 240 provisions.

Rodriguez said members of the panel, however, can vote for every provision using roll call voting, without the need for explanation of their votes.

“That is why we are now giving them the last chance to amend what has previously agreed upon so that when the voting started, no one is allowed to explain his/her vote to save time,” Rodriguez said.

“We will have a consensus on this (secret voting). I’m sure the majority will open so we know proposals for amendments — so we know who are against. They will be coming out with certain provisions that will not follow what the MILF wants us to do, which is to approve the bill without watering it down,” he explained.

Rodriguez claimed that voting in an executive session is not disallowed.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, a member of the House panel, said the BBL voting should be open to make the deliberations transparent.

“(The proposal) is absurd. The voting should be open to the public and it should not be hidden. Our constituents should know how we voted because this is a very important issue and millions would be affected,” Zarate said.

“Voting in the committee is pointless because we would also be voting in the plenary. So for the sake of transparency, it would be best that the voting on the BBL be open to the public,” he added.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares pointed to Malacañang backing the proposal for secret voting on the BBL to allow its allies to save face.

“Whether the vote of a member is a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ the public should know. Malacañang should not conceal the vote of a congressman,” Colmenares said.

The House is expected to vote on a per line basis on the bill from Monday to Wednesday.

The deliberations covered only three BBL sections on which amendments were proposed.

“We will have to defer the voting,” he said. “We will finish accepting amendments and start voting on it (today),” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the committee has to accept every input from members to be able to come up with a measure that it is acceptable to all.

“We cannot say no to them (panel members),” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the lawmakers would go through the proposed BBL line-by-line to accommodate suggested amendments to the measure before voting on the sections.

Among the amendments sought was on the definition of “Indigenous Peoples” in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region which will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The proposed BBL would pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro Region that replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Rodriguez said the panel members could begin voting today even if the listing of the amendments take too much time.

He reminded that major provisions of the BBL will have to be amended to avoid a run in on the Constitution.

Provisions that pertain to the creation of the Bangsamoro Commissions on Audit, Elections, Human Rights, Civil Service, and Office of the Ombudsman will likely be deleted and will be substituted as offices and directly under the supervision of the national agencies.

Rodriguez said the panel will strive to start voting on the BBL under House Bill 4994 at 9:30 a.m. today.

Also up for deletion is the provision granting power to the Bangsamoro chief minister over the police and the clause providing protocols for the operations of the military in the envisioned Bangsamoro region.

The eighth provision to be deleted is the one allowing areas outside the Bangsamoro core territory to hold a plebiscite that will make them part of the Bangsamoro region.

Rodriguez said at least 60 provisions of the BBL will be amended. The rest will be “improved” to ensure the BBL won’t enable the creation of a sub-state or for the bill to be a launch pad for secession.

Palace’s fair warning

The Palace, in an apparent reminder to its House allies, said it is looking forward for the smooth passage of the BBL to keep President Aquino’s timeline for the creation of the Bangsamoro substate.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda urged members of the House to “choose peace” when they vote this week.

“We have every hope that they will vote for peace, which is the foundation of unity and progress,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda added the BBL is an expression of Aquino’s commitment to uplift the lives of the people of Mindanao. He claimed that the bill supports “inclusive growth.”

“The welfare of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao has always been part of the administration’s agenda of inclusive growth. This commitment is embodied in the different programs of our agencies and in the President’s various activities,” Lacierda added.

“More or less, I think, we’re still following the timeline that Congress told us to expect even before the Mamasapano and they were talking about June then the Senate proceeds after that,” Aquino said.


LACIERDA

Earlier Malacañang used the national peace council’s (NPC) findings as premise to support the Palace’s alleged “emerging public sentiment” for the BBL, as discussions on the measure is set to resurface in the Senate.

The NPC, through retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr, assured the House that the draft BBL was faithful to the Constitution amid fears that it would create a substate where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would have full control of the bureaucracy, security and revenue.

A poll conducted by the Pulse Asia, however, showed an overwhelming 62 percent of respondents in Mindanao disagreed with the enactment of the bill.

Overall, the survey showed 44 percent in the entire country opposed the measure compared to those who were ambivalent (36 percent) and those who support the bill (21 percent).

Groups backing the BBL’s approval held a peace rally at the Batasan Complex to dramatize their support for the measure which they believe would pave the way for lasting peace in Mindanao.

The groups include various peace advocates including the All Out Peace campaign, Friends of the Bangsamoro, Mindanao Solidarity Network, Citizens’ Peace Council and Friends of Peace.

Officials of the ARMM led by Gov. Mujiv Hataman were also present in the Peace Rally.

Other events under the campaign Çitizens’ Action for the Bangsamoro Basic Law’ were also launched in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, Kidapawan, Cotabato City and Ilo-ilo.

Sulu Sultanate weighs in

The Sultanate of Sulu will stress its opposition to the BBL during today’s scheduled public consultation by the Senate in Jolo.

Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesman of the Sultanate of Sulu, said that the leadership of the sultanate, under Sultan Esmael Kiram II, told The Tribune that the BBL will face rough sailing, citing the people of Sulu’s opposition to the proposed law.


Abraham Idjirani, a spokesman for the sultan

According to Idjirani, today’s public hearing in Jolo, under a Senate committee chaired by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., would be presided over by government chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.

“The Sultanate of Sulu under the leadership of Sultan Esmael Kiram II will present the sultanate’s position anchored on historic rights as its basis in asserting its opposition to the BBL,” Idjirani told The Tribune.

“The BBL will be facing rough sailing from the entire MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) members from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi Tawi, different stakeholders including religious sector,” he added.

Idjirani stressed that the MILF-proposed BBL would lead to the dropping of the Philippine claims over Sabah.

On the other hand, Rev. Absalom Cerveza, spokesman of the MNLF group of Chairman Nur Misuari, said they will not attend the consultation.

Misuari’s group has declared independence from the Philippine government in 2013 in protest of the signing of peace agreements between the GPH and the MILF which broke away from the MNLF before the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Misuari established his so-called Bangsamoro Republik which covers areas historically identified with the Sultanate of Sulu, including Sabah and Sarawak which are currently under Malaysia.

The MNLF-Misuari group said it will only participate in proceedings under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles also called on legislators to fulfill their historic role in bringing good governance, peace, prosperity and security in Mindanao through the passage of the BBL.
Mario J. Mallari, Pat C. Santos


MANILA STANDARD

Vote on BBL reset, made open By Maricel Cruz | May. 12, 2015 at 12:01am


Vote postponed. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, head of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, bangs the gavel to start the voting for the passage of the proposed law in the House of Representatives Monday. The vote has been rescheduled for today. Lino Santos

THE 75-man ad hoc panel tasked to scrutinize the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) reset the vote it was supposed to take on Monday and decided to open to public the session on proposed amendments and the actual voting on the measure today.

The vote was originally scheduled to be taken at 4 p.m. Monday, but Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the panel chairman, said it had to be re-scheduled because the panel still has to make way for individual amendments to the measure.

Vote postponed. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, head of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, bangs the gavel to start the voting for the passage of the proposed law in the House of Representatives Monday. The vote has been rescheduled for today. Lino Santos

Rodriguez also shot down earlier proposals to hold secret voting on the measure even as hundreds of supporters of the BBL gathered at the gate of the House of Representatives to pressure lawmakers to pass the controversial measure.

Each member of the panel is allowed to introduce amendments to House Bill No. 4994 provision by provision of the 101-page bill.

The leader of the independent minority bloc, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, welcomed the open voting process for the sake of transparency.

“We should allow the public to witness the crucial voting for this very controversial peace of legislation,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez earlier warned that conducting the BBL voting behind closed doors, as some lawmakers proposed, would create uncertainties and further erode public support to the measure.

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Rodriguez said his panel vowed to pass the measure with amendments.

“We will pass a BBL measure that is acceptable to all parties concerned,” he said.

He added he is optimistic that the BBL will pass in Congress “without the questionable provisions.” “It is our best shot at peace in Mindanao, and everyone of us is for bringing peace and development to Mindanao,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez’s panel is expected to have the bill approved by Wednesday. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II attended the session of the ad hoc panel Monday to observe the proceedigs.

Rodriguez had earlier vowed to excise from the measure the controversial provisions such as those on national defense and security; the provisions on public order and safety; establishment of the Bangsamoro Police; powers of the Chief Minister on the Bangsamoro Police; and the operation of the Armed Forces in the Bangsamoro area and on the normalization and decommissioning agreement.

Rodriguez said his panel would not dilute the power of the Philippine National Police over the Bangsamoro territory and would remove the BBL provision allowing the latter’s internal police to be the primary party responsible for the public peace and order.


March for the BBL. Thousands of peace advocates trooped to the House of Representatives on Monday as they joined a peace march dubbed “Bangsamoro Para Sa Bayan, Para sa Lahat” and reiterated their demand for Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Lino Santos

Malacanang expressed hope that the House ad hoc panel would vote for peace.

“The welfare of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao has always been part of the administration’s agenda of inclusive growth. This commitment is embodied in the different programs of our agencies and in the President’s various activities,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles also called on legislators to fulfill their historic role in bringing good governance, peace, prosperity and security in Mindanao through the passage of the BBL.

“The Philippines is faced with the historic opportunity to finally fulfill the constitutional mandate and promise of true autonomy; bring to an end four decades of violent conflict in Mindanao; install and strengthen democratic institutions to overcome deprivation and lawlessness; and collectively embrace and celebrate the richness of our multiple identities, cultures, and narratives,” Deles said in a statement.

Deles pointed out that fulfilling the promise for a genuine autonomy in the Bangsamoro is an opportunity given to the members of the House in their lifetime.

“I hope and pray that our legislators will wholeheartedly claim—and not deny nor squander—their key role in fulfilling this opportunity that may not come again within our lifetime,” the peace adviser said.

Deles also emphasized that the constituencies in the Bangsamoro need a law that will embody their best hopes for the future of their children.

“We need a BBL that will embody our best hopes and not give in to our worst fears. In the coming vote on the BBL, please let the children be the focus of attention and concern—their lives, their future—the children of Mamasapano equally with the children of Metro Manila,” Deles said. – With Sandy Araneta


TRIBUNE

LP version of BBL set to pacify MILF Written by Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales Wednesday, 13 May 2015 00:00

VOTING DEFERRED FURTHER TO NEXT WEEK


LP AND LEADER OF THE HOUSE BELMONTE

A compromise version of the BBL prepared by the administration’s Liberal Party (LP) is being shoved into the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) resulting in voting on the bill seeking to create the Bangsamoro substate to be stalled anew and deferred to next week.

The Palace is whipping its alliance in the House of Representatives to deal with the possible refusal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to accept a slew of amendments introduced by the members of the ad hoc committee.

The LP version of the bill is a compromise to accommodate the MILF’s position but which has posed another delay to the voting of the bill.

A highly placed source from the panel said that the voting should have been done yesterday as Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, announced. “But we have not met today,” the source, a lawyer, said yesterday.

He explained that problems in the introduction of the amendments could be easily ironed out between and among officials of the government.

“Why the sudden postponement of the meeting?” the same source said, adding that there could also be some problems in the “numbers” who would vote for the measure. Rodriguez, on Monday, said they would vote on the measure yesterday.

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Earlier, during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte expressed confidence that the BBL would be able get the required number of votes for its passage on the committee level. Belmonte said the suspension of the scheduled voting will affect their timetable to pass the measure before the sine die adjournment of the Second Regular Session of the 16th Congress on June 11.

“The timetable is somehow affected, but not that much. We just want to ensure order. Of course we have the support of majority to pass it,” Belmonte told reporters.

In an ambush interview, House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales defended the move to defer the line-by-line voting “aimed at consolidating amendments to the BBL.” “Let us give enough time for the members to study the proposed amendments.

The draft will be submitted by chairman Rodriguez and then the copy will be given to members for their consideration,” said Gonzales. It was learned that 12 members of the panel had proposed several minor and major amendments to the BBL, including the rewording of some provisions to the extent of deletion of few sections. “There are additional amendments to be given. We better reset it (voting) for the meantime to have copies of all addendum. I feel that if I will not give in to request of consolidation, we are rushing things,” said Rodriguez.

The panel members will have to choose between the proposed amendments and the original sections of the bill as contained by the original version of the bill.

During the voting, Rodriguez is expected to push the deletion of eight provisions deemed to be unconstitutional by many lawmakers.

These are the following:

the creation of a separate Bangsamoro electoral body;

the creation of a civil service office;

the establishment of a Bangsamoro Commission on Audit (CoA);

the creation of its own Office of the Ombudsman;

the creation of its human rights commission;

the creation of its own police; 

a provision requiring coordination before the Armed Forces of the Philippines could operate in their area of jurisdiction and

the provision that would allow a city or town to become part of the Bangsamoro with only ten percent vote of the population.

Senate won’t adhere to deadline

Senate hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is unlikely to be terminated this week following a marathon deliberation at the committee level in Sulu today and tomorrow in Zamboanga City. Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. bared plans of still conducting further proceedings in Manila after their out-of-towm meetings and cannot commit to any deadline in the passage of the measure as far as the upper chamber is concerned.

“When we get back to Manila, we will have another hearing to get the side of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). I think it is proper to hear the MNLF side because they have signed a peace agreement with the government, the 1996 Jakarta Agreement,” he said.

“So after that, before the end of the month, we would likely complete our hearing and the committee would probably be ready by then to write the version that we will present to the rest of the senators,” he added.

Marcos, chairman of the committee on local government, said several of his colleagues have earlier signified their intention to propose their own amendments to the draft BBL, which would likely result in lengthy floor debates.

“If we manage to pass it by June 10, then well and good. But what is more important is that we pass a version of the BBL that we believe will really work to achieve its avowed goal, and that is to bring peace and prosperity to Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

Malacañang has signified its desire for the passage of the BBL before Congress adjourns on June 10. However, BBL hearings suffered a setback in both Houses of Congress following the tragic January 25, 2015 Mamasapano clash that resulted in the death of 44 commandos of the police’s Special Action Force.

But even before the Mamasapano incident broke out, Marcos had already scheduled to hold public consultation in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City but put this off to give way to the Senate probe on the said armed clash involving the death of 44 members of the police’ Special Action Force (SAF).

“I made a promise to the people of Jolo and Zamboanga that they will have a chance to air their views on the BBL and so we set these hearings to fulfill that promise,” Marcos said.

This early Marcos said the Senate is not likely to heed Malacañang’s appeal for the passage of the BBL without any amendments. He said that even the peace council which Malacañang constituted to review BBL pointed the need for some changes in the draft BBL.

“We will amend on the power sharing, we will amend on the administrative issues, we will amend on the economic issues, we will certainly amend on the constitutional issues,” Marcos said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said it is better to wait for the decision of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro before the Palace can issue a statement on the apparent delay in the BBL timetable.

Aquino had expressed his desire that the BBL should be passed before Congress adjourns in June. “We have no information on that,” Coloma said in reaction to supposed acts delaying the BBL’s passage.

“Let us wait for the decision of the ad hoc committee in Congress on the amendments presented for the draft BBL. We acknowledge and respect that Congress has its own processes as a separate and co-equal branch of government,” he added.

“The goal of the government is to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will push the objective of the peace process. I will repeat, as a separate and co-equal branch, we leave it to the the House of Representatives to decide on this matter,” he said.

Aquino sought approval of the measure this week through the special panel in the House, as staunch Aquino ally Belmonte also expressed confidence that the House panel would eventually approve the measure.

Malacañang earlier warned against a watered down version of the bill.

On the other hand, the Palace was keen on pushing Congress to pass its priority legislative measures as President Aquino’s term nears its end.

The Palace official said that the work of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) continues to pursue the cooperation of Congress. Asked on moves of the Palace to bolster the passage of the measures, Coloma said

“The communication of the executive and the legislative continues.” The Palace spokesman said that many of the bills may be in process, saying that although many are not widely published, the government is confident that they are working enough for its passage.

“It can be that many of it are currently being sharpened by responsible House or Senate committees. After forming a committee report, it becomes the basis for it to be filed for plenary discussion. We are waiting for the report of the PLLO,” he said. Joshua L. Labonera


MANNILA STANDARD

Uncertainty of passage delays BBL vote anew By Maricel Cruz, Macon Ramos-Araneta and Sandy Araneta | May. 13, 2015 at 12:01am


Forum. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. seems to be amused by a question from the media following the postponement of the voting on the Bangsamoro Basic Law during a forum in Congress on Tuesday. Lino Santos

THE independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives said Tuesday House leaders might not have enough support from lawmakers to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The bloc’s leader, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, said the decision of the 75-man ad hoc panel to defer the voting on the BBL was triggered by the lack of support from House members to approve the draft bill being pushed by the administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“This development indicates that the House majority has no solid numbers to pass the BBL because even their allies believe that Congress should not hurry the approval of a very vital and important measure,” said Romualdez. “Congress should not pass the BBL under duress.”

“While we support peace with the MILF, the measure must be approved in consonance with the Constitution and existing laws. The strong clamor to deliver justice for the victims of Mamasapano clash remains and the government and the MILF must ensure that this requirement is met,” Romualdez added.

Nevertheless, Romualdez said the move of the ad hoc panel, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, to reset the voting next week was “a laudable act to allow members to study the proposed amendments.”

This developed as House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. played down reports that the House leadership does not have enough number of votes to pass the BBL.

“I am certain we have the numbers. More than that, we have to polish everything,” Belmonte told reporters.

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Belmonte said the House is still on the right track to pass the BBL and that the delay in the supposed voting of the BBL last Monday would not affect its timetable much.

“The timetable is somehow affected, but not that much. We just want to ensure order. Of course we have the support of majority to pass it,” Belmonte said.

The Speaker said the ad hoc panel was expected to come up with its draft report on the measure that would be voted upon by the House members.

Belmonte pointed out that the House must pass a version of the BBL “that is acceptable to most.” Otherwise, it would only be end up being questioned before the Supreme Court, Belmonte added.

House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Rep. Neptali Gonzales II welcomed the move of the ad hoc panel to defer the voting, saying the effort was “aimed at consolidating amendments to the BBL.”

“Let us give enough time for the members to study the proposed amendments. The draft will be submitted by chairman Rodriguez and then the copy will be given to members for their consideration,” Gonzales said.

It was learned that 12 members of the panel had proposed several amendments to the BBL, including the rewording of some provisions and the deletion of a few sections.

“There are additional amendments to be given. We better reset it (voting) for the meantime to have copies of all addendum. I feel that if I will not give in to request of consolidation, we are rushing things,” said Rodriguez.

The panel members will have to choose between the proposed amendments and the original sections of the bill as contained by the original version of the bill.

During the voting, Rodriguez is expected to push for the deletion of eight provisions deemed to be unconstitutional by many lawmakers.

In the Senate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the committee on local governments, said his panel would conduct another hearing to get the side of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

He will schedule the hearing after getting back to Manila from the two-day marathon hearings in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City on May 13 and 14.

“I think it is proper to hear the MNLF side because they have signed a peace agreement with the government, the 1996 Jakarta Agreement,” Marcos said.

“I made a promise to the people of Jolo and Zamboanga that they will have a chance to air their views on the BBL and so we set these hearings to fulfill that promise,” Marcos said.

The Jolo and Zamboanga hearings will be held in the same week the special committee of the House of Representatives gears up to vote on the final version of BBL it would present to the plenary.

Malacanang has signified its desire for the BBL to be passed before Congress adjourns on June 10.

However, BBL hearings suffered a setback in both Houses of Congress after 44 police commandos were killed by Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25.

This early, Marcos said the Senate is not likely to heed Malacanang’s appeal for the passage of the BBL without any amendments.

He said that even the Peace Council which Malacanang constituted to review BBL pointed the need for some changes in the draft BBL.

“We will amend on the power sharing. We will amend on the administrative issues. We will amend on the economic issues. We will certainly amend on the constitutional issues,” Marcos said.

Marcos said he cannot commit to any deadline for the passage of the BBL in the Senate.

He said many of his fellow senators have earlier signified their intention to propose their own amendments to the draft BBL, which would likely result in lengthy floor debates.

“If we manage to pass it by June 10, then well and good. But what is more important is that we pass a version of the BBL that we believe will really work to achieve its avowed goal, and that is to bring peace and prosperity to Muslim Mindanao,” Marcos said.

The Palace on Tuesday said it is giving Congress a free hand in its deliberations on the BBL.

“Let us wait for the decision of the ad hoc committee in Congress regarding amendments being made on the draft BBL. We recognize and respect that Congress has their own process as a separate and co-equal branch of government,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Coloma said there would be no effort on the part of the administration to consolidate its allies to have them vote “yes” to the BBL.

“The aim of the government is to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed by Congress, which would promote the objectives of the peace process. But, I repeat, as a separate and co-equal branch of government, we will leave it up to the House of Representatives to decide on this,” Coloma said.


MANILA BULLETIN

Senate holding BBL hearings in Mindanao by Mario Casayuran May 13, 2015


On this gma News photo Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (right) shares a light moment with MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal before the resumption of the Senate inquiry on the Bangsamoro Basic Law on Monday, April 13. Marcos, chairman of the committee on local government, earlier said that he would ask Iqbal about his true name after learning that the latter only used his pseudonym in signing the peace agreements with the Philippine government. Benjie Castro

With only 13 days of regular sessions left before adjourning sine die on June 12, the Senate Local Government Committee will hold two public hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Jolo, Sulu, and Zamboanga City starting tomorrow.

“I made a promise to the people of Jolo and Zamboanga that they will have a chance to air their views on the BBL and so we set these hearings to fulfill that promise,” Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., committee chairman, said.

Marcos said his committee will also have another public hearing to get the side of the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), then headed by University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Nur Misuari who signed a peace accord with the Ramos administration in 1996.

“So after that, before the end of the month, we would likely complete our hearings and the committee would probably be ready by then to write the version that we will present to the rest of the senators,” Marcos explained.

The Jolo and Zamboanga hearings will be held in the same week the special committee of the House of Representatives gears up to vote on the final version of BBL it would present to the plenary.

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Malacañang had expressed its desire that Congress would be able to pass the BBL before adjourning on June 12.

Public hearings on the BBL were temporarily shelved by both Houses of Congress following the January 25, 2015, Mamasapano tragedy where 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) died in a firefight with the fighters of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs).

AMENDMENTS CERTAIN

This early, Marcos said the Senate is unlikely to heed Malacañang’s appeal for the passage of the BBL without any amendments.

He said that even the peace council which Malacañang constituted to review BBL pointed out the need for some changes in the BBL, which was drafted by the MILF and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“We will amend the power sharing, we will amend the administrative issues, we will amend the economic issues, we will certainly amend the constitutional issues,” Marcos said.

Marcos admitted that he could not commit to any deadline for the passage of the BBL in the Senate.

He said many of his fellow senators had earlier signified their intention to propose their own amendments to the draft BBL, which would likely result in lengthy floor debates.

“If we manage to pass it by June 10, then well and good. But what is more important is that we pass a version of the BBL that we believe will really work to achieve its avowed goal, and that is to bring peace and prosperity to Muslim Mindanao,” Marcos stressed.

The Marcos committee heads two other committees tasked by Senate President Franklin M. Drilon to fine-tune the BBL.

The two panels are the Senate Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation Committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III and the Senate Constitutional Amendments Committee chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

After conducting a hearing on the BBL, where the country’s legal luminaries attended, Santiago declared that she found that most of the provisions in the BBL are unconstitutional.

The Santiago committee has yet to submit its findings and recommendations to the Marcos mother committee

At the House of Representatives, the majority coalition solidly favors the passage of the proposed BBL, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. told reporters yesterday.

Belmonte gave the assessment after having a meeting with fellow House leaders on Monday night wherein they primarily tackled the contentious measure, which seeks the establishment of the Bangsamoro substate in Mindanao.

The meeting took place just hours after the BBL was peppered with suggested amendments from members of the Ad Hoc Committee.

But the House independent bloc expressed strong belief that the deferment of ad hoc panel voting on the peace measure was due to lack of lawmakers’ strong support for the controversial bill.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who heads the group, claimed that the ad hoc panel, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, had failed to muster substantial support for the BBL.

“This development indicates that the House majority has no solid number to pass the BBL because even their allies believe that Congress should not hurry the approval of a very vital and important measure,” he said.

However, Belmonte said it was during the meeting that House members decided to postpone the section by section voting on the BBL from this week to May 18 to 20.

NOT SKEPTIC

Belmonte, in the Ugnayan sa Batasan news forum Tuesday, dispelled notions that the reason behind the deferment was the House leadership’s skepticism that it could actually pass the BBL at the committee level.

“I’m reasonably certain that we have the number [of votes], but more than that mahirap yung magulo (we don’t want things to be disorderly).

When asked to specify the number of pro-BBL votes that they think they have, Belmonte reminded reporters that 270 out of the 290 congressmen in the Chamber belong to the majority bloc.

WORKING DRAFT

He said the week-long postponement would give the ad hoc panel members time to go over the proposed changes to the BBL before the actual voting, which begins Monday.

“Because there have been extensive consultations on the bill as presented, there were so much comments there and recommended amendments that were never resolved. They were just compiled.

“We thought it would be better to have an actual draft as preliminarily amended. And Rufus actually made a draft and I said let’s use that draft of yours as a working draft. Copies of it will be distributed to all members today (Tuesday),” Belmonte said.

The Rodriguez document, which reportedly contains all of the lawmakers’ amendments, will serve as the working draft for the voting.

MARCOS SINS

Meanwhile, the MILF asked Marcos to atone for the sins of his father to the Philippines, including the massacre of Moros.

An Editorial on Luwaran.com took issue with the senator’s seemingly taking time to finish the Senate hearings on the proposed BBL.

The young Marcos “should atone for the various sins of his father to this country, including the massacres of thousands of Moros in Mindanao,” the Muslim rebel group said.

It cited such wholesale killings of thousands of Moros such as the Malisbong Massacre in Palembang, Sultan Kudarat; the Pata Island Massacre in Sulu with 2,000 victims; the Patikul Massacre in Sulu, too, where 700 were killed, and many others.

Marcos can make up for his father’s deeds “by supporting the passage of a good BBL in the Senate.”

The MILF said it sees the good and the bad things the late strongman Marcos did for the country. “We know that the sin of one is not the sin of another,” it added. (With reports from Ellson A. Quismorio, Charissa M. Luci, and Edd K. Usman)


PHILSTAR

ARMM peace groups call for 'neutral' BBL consultation By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated May 13, 2015 - 6:36pm


The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the region, located in the Mindanao island group of the Philippines, that is composed of predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. The only region that has its own government, ARMM’s regional capital is Cotabato City, although this city is outside of its jurisdiction. Google Search  Images

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Peace activists in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao urged Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to repeat in a neutral ground the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law consultation he presided over in Jolo, Sulu on Wednesday.

Local peace advocates told reporters via text messages that the venue of Wednesday’s consultation, Sulu’s provincial capitol, was inappropriate owing to the strong opposition of Sulu’s political kingpin, Vice Gov. Hadji Sakur Tan, to the draft BBL.

“It was held in an area where the political power of our provincial vice governor emanates,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified.

A school official, who requested anonymity, said last year’s congressional dialogue with Sulu’s sectoral leaders on the draft BBL in the same venue was not as productive since most participants were apprehensive to express support to the draft BBL.

“The consultations by Congress and Senate should have been held outside of the Sulu provincial capitol,” the education official pointed out.

Peace advocacy groups in ARMM want Marcos to repeat the draft BBL consultation in a venue far from the Sulu capitol to ensure maximum participation of stakeholders.

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“People cannot speak freely on how they favor the BBL in a consultation venue which they feel is not neutral,” said a Tausog health worker.

Only Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, from among five provincial governors in ARMM, and his constituent-vice governor, Lester Sinsuat, have overtly been campaigning for public support to the draft BBL.

The two officials, along with the governor’s younger sibling, Assemblyman Khadafe Mangudadatu of the ARMM’s 24-seat Regional Assembly, have actively been helping the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front disseminate to Maguindanao folks the intricacies and importance of the draft BBL.


PHILSTAR

No more BBL, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law has a new name: “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”  Marc Jayson Cayabyab @MJcayabyabINQ INQUIRER.net 10:01 PM | Wednesday, May 13th, 2015


Sept 12, 2014 photo: President Aquino smiles as Mohagher Iqbal (left), chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, hands over the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Senate President Franklin Drilon in Malacañang on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. At right is Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. The BBL will redraw the map of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and nearby areas, as it aims to establish a larger, self-governing region. AFP

The House of Representatives ad hoc Bangsamoro committee has consolidated the amendments of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which will be up for voting next week.

According to the amended draft of the Bangsamoro basic bill released to the media on Wednesday, the proposed measure is no longer called BBL. It was renamed “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

Unconstitutional provisions

The panel deleted from the draft the contentious provisions creating the Bangsamoro’s own Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Audit and Bangsamoro Civil Service Office.

Panel chair Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said these Bangsamoro bodies usurp the constitutional powers of its national counterparts.

Likewise deleted is the creation of a Bangsamoro Police Board, which was supposed to be the Bangsamoro’s version of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) which receives complaints on police personnel. It will instead be called the Regional Police Commission under the administration and control of the Napolcom.

Also deleted from the bill is the opt in provision which allows contiguous areas outside the Bangsamoro core territory to be part of the Bangsamoro territory upon a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters and approved by majority of qualified votes in a plebiscite. Lawmakers warned the provision may result in a creeping expansion.

Public order, safety

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Another contentious provision is the original provision that grants the Bangsamoro government primary responsibility over public order and safety concerns in the region. Lawmakers said the national government should have the primary role according to the Constitution.

The amended draft says the Bangsamoro government has joint responsibility with the national government over public order and safety in the Bangsamoro.

Still under the public order and safety section, there will no longer be coordination protocols between the Bangsamoro and national government regarding the movement and deployment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Bangsamoro region. This means the national government may deploy the military without coordinating with the Bangsamoro government, pursuant to the constitutional powers of the President as commander in chief.

The proposed bill seeks to create a more politically autonomous Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It was a result of decades of peace talks that resulted in a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


PHILSTAR COMMENTARY

Okay BBL as is, or pass to next admin POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 14, 2015 - 12:00am


By Federico D. Pascual Jr

TO SPARE the nation further stress brought on by the bitter disagreements on the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro federal state in Muslim Mindanao, let us choose quickly one of two final options:

• Pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law as originally submitted by Malacañang and its partner the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), then test its constitutionality before the Supreme Court.

• Or wind up the congressional hearings, drop the BBL measure and leave the matter to the next administration to act upon.

Either way, the BBL distraction is pushed out of the way. The Aquino administration would then have no more excuse for not attending to the litany of here-and-now problems as listed yesterday by our colleague Jarius Bondoc.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front will reject a watered down BBL anyway. There is, therefore, no point in quarreling over substantive amendments and rushing the bill’s approval before the Congress adjourns its current session on June 12.

Forewarned, the military, the police and civilian militia should prepare for the intensified hostilities that the revolutionary MILF has threatened to launch if the government does not give it the Bangsamoro intact as promised by Malacañang.

MILF, KL now know they’ve been had

BY THIS TIME, the MILF must have realized that it was hoodwinked by Malacañang into thinking it was negotiating as the “GRP” (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) although it was just a third leg of a tripartite structure.

The mere fact that the Congress is massively rewriting the BBL draft and the Supreme Court is waiting to rule on its constitutionality should impress on the MILF and its principals in Kuala Lumpur that Malacañang and its varsity team are not the “GRP” they had claimed to be.

As early as now, meanwhile, charges can be readied for filing against treasonous officials selling Central Mindanao and Sulu to local agents of Malaysia in the guise of searching for peace.

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Sensing failure in its attempt to dismember Mindanao using the MILF, Kuala Lumpur is trying another tack by tantalizing Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari, of Tausug roots, with an offer to help revive his vision of a “Bangsamoro Republik” with Sabah thrown in.

Bangsamoro as election issue in 2016

ON WHAT to do with the MILF’s Bangsamoro that is on the table, it appears that dropping it and letting the next administration pick it up, if it wants, is the better option for this battered nation.

With just a year to go before he steps down, President Noynoy Aquino should not force the approval of what is starting to smell like a midnight deal.

If he is that stubborn, he can adopt the creation of the MILF’s Bangsamoro invested with the elements of a nascent Islamic state as the major plank of the election platform of the administration’s presidential candidate next year.

Let his anointed one, most likely DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, rise or fall on the Bangsamoro issue.

Roxas had a chance to distance himself from the Bangsamoro question after the Mamasapano massacre of last Jan. 25, but he missed it. We now presume he is for the original BBL like his Palace patron.

Water rates differ in 2 MWSS zones

A BASIC problem in the nation’s capital is the seeming inevitability and inconsistency of the rise in the rates of water service.

For instance, Aling Nena of Fairview pays P864 for her monthly household water consumption of 30 cubic meters while her cousin Celing in Cubao, also in Quezon City, pays only P618 for the same volume.

And if arbitration decisions on questions over such items as rates and taxes are carried out, the disparity would grow even bigger – with Nena paying P944 (excluding currency exchange rate adjustment) and Celing only P603 for the same 30 cubic feet of water.

The easy explanation is that Nena is served by Maynilad Water while Celing draws from Manila Water. Way back in 1997, the service area of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System was privatized and split into two zones.

In the bidding, the West zone went to Maynilad and the East to Manila Water. While the terms of their concession contracts were generally similar, some variations in actual operations crept in with time.

Uneven ICC decisions for Maynilad, Manila

MORE questions on tariff arose after the International Chamber of Commerce ruled differently in separate arbitration decisions: one upholding Maynilad’s proposed increase of P4.06 per cubic meter while the other denying Manila Water’s proposal and instead decided on a reduction of P2.77 per cubic meter.

The issue regarding price changes is often policy-driven. Factors such as infrastructure development and investment recovery, financial agreements between companies and the government affect sustainability and profitability.

The rules and regulations are in the concession agreement that both companies signed before the bidding in 1997. Under the contract, MWSS would remain the public utility, while the concessionaires would be its agents and contractors.

Each concessionaire has been spending more than P100 billion since then to ensure sustainability of water supply and improve waste water services.

But in time, the MWSS told the concessionaires to bring down water rates, which led both to bring the matter for arbitration at the ICC. The results were contrasting – the ICC ruled in favor of Maynilad’s proposal, while Manila Water was denied its petition. How is that?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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