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

MORE THAN 12 HOURS OF HOUSE VOTING ON BBL ENDS


MAY 20 ---On this May 18, 2015 photo, the members of the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law vote on a new draft of the measure, which includes suggested revisions, at the House of Representatives. Ernie Peñaredondo
- The House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) worked over time and was able to finish voting the main provisions of BBL draft after more than 12 hours on Tuesday night. The House ad hoc panel ended reviewing and voting on the 109 pages of chair and vice-chair’s draft on the proposed BBL per line and section during the second day of the voting session at around 10:30 p.m. Among the last amendment made was the withdrawal of provision on division of parliamentary seats per district. This would be left to the House plenary to decide upon. Reports said that a total of 32 amendments have been cleared for the 18-article proposal. One of the significant proposals approved is the removal of BBL provision for the ceremonial head of Bangsamoro region otherwise known as “wali.” The sustained deletion of this provision garnered 22-15 votes. The House also granted the provision that amends restoration of powers of the Bangsamoro government over Bangsamoro settlements. THERE IS MORE...

ALSO from Philstar: House committee approves amended BBL


MAY 20 --Bangsamoro Basic Law hearings are held at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, the headquarters of the Philippine House of Representatives, in Quezon City. Pictured is the West Front of the main congressional building.
- The House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday convened and approved the amended draft BBL after two days of marathon voting sessions. The draft bill that establishes a new political entity, replacing the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was approved by the House panel with 50-17 votes and one abstention. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, also the chair of the committee, announced the results of the vote. Rodriguez earlier announced the vote as 48 yes, 18 no and one abstention but later on corrected it with 50-17 and one abstention  After the ad hoc committee’s approval of the bill, the measure will be deliberated by the joint committee on appropriations and ways and means to settle its implementation. The draft bill is expected to be transmitted for plenary debate and deliberation either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. The House Panel worked over time on Tuesday night to conduct voting of the chair and vice-chair’s draft, line by line and section per section to meet with the Aquino administration’s deadline of BBL passage by June 2015. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO from Manila Standard: ‘House panel OK a done deal’
[Senator Ferdindand Marcos Jr., who heads the Senate committee on local government said it was time that the Palace stopped talking about deadlines for the BBL’s passage. As the House rushed headlong toward meeting Aquino’s June 11 deadline, Marcos said he has not heard any sufficient justification for the rush.Marcos noted too that the peace negotiations were exclusively done between the government panel and the MILF. “Clearly, the MNLF feels that they have a part to play; it is an opinion that I agree with,” Marcos said.]


MAY 20 ---Continuation. Lawmakers raise their hands as they continued voting for or against the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law at the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Manny Palmero
Opposition lawmakers said that voting on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was a mockery of the legislative process with the assured approval of a version of the law approved by the Palace and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“It’s obvious that the ongoing voting on the supposed amendments to the BBL is a moro-moro,” said Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, using a Filipino term for pretense. He said some lawmakers opposed to the BBL wanted to stop the voting by the ad hoc panel and jump straight to the plenary, so as not to waste time and effort. Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said it was obvious that President Benigno Aquino III, who had met twice with House leaders over the weekend, wanted to have the BBL as part of his legacy at the expense of the Constitution. The majority in the ad hoc committee continued to dominate the second day of voting on amendments to the BBL.  READ MORE...

ALSO Standard editorial: Betraying our trust


MAY 20 ---SOMEWHERE in the Book of Liars, there is a star by the name of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
The historical footnote will observe that Rodriguez, given the opportunity to do his country a great service, chose instead to lie, not only to his constituents but also to the rest of the nation. Rodriguez, chairman of the ad hoc committee in the House that is scrutinizing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), could have kept his promise to allow extensive and open debates. He also could have kept his oft-repeated vow to remove eight unconstitutional provisions in the Palace-drafted bill. This week, Rodriguez did neither of these things. Instead, after two mysterious meetings at the Palace with President Benigno Aquino III and other congressional leaders over the weekend, Rodriguez is now shoveling coal into an express train to ram the BBL through the congressional mill, with as few changes as humanly possible. Instead of honoring an earlier decision by the panel to assign a technical working group to draft a revised BBL incorporating all the proposed amendments, Rodriguez whipped out his own “chairman’s draft” that might well have been printed in some Palace backroom. Only two of the eight unconstitutional provisions were stricken from the so-called chairman’s draft. READ MORE...

ALSO from Manila Times: BBL clears House panel in show of force


MAY 20 ---President Benigno Aquino III continues to push for the passage of controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law. (Screen grabbed from internet) Malacanang apparently feels pressured as Congress is set to vote on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law today. PHOTO FROM
DZRH NEWS 
IN an apparent show of force, congressmen allied with the administration who are members of an ad hoc committee that reviewed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday voted to endorse the measure for plenary discussion next week. In a vote of 48 in favor, 18 against and one abstention, the House committee approved the amended BBL bill as well as the committee report. The approved committee report is now formally named as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. The committee deliberated on the measure in a 13-hour marathon hearing, which lasted until late Tuesday night. Critics of the draft BBL said Malacañang had a hand in the crafting of the working draft. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez Jr., who heads the ad hoc committee, however, vehemently denied the allegation, saying the panel incorporated 95 proposed amendments from various lawmakers. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday expressed confidence that the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will not be railroaded in the Senate like what happened in the House of Representatives ad hoc committee, as claimed by some progressive legislators. “I don’t think so because our senators are very independent-minded,” Marcos said in a radio interview with asked on the possibility that the BBL will be railroaded in the Senate. What’s next?  READ MORE...

ALSO Times commentary: BBL and Aquino’s gangster concept of democracy


MAY 20 ---by YEN MAKABENTA 
It should not take another Aquino—Fr. Ranhilo Aquino (no relation to the president)—to pinpoint the perversion of governance under the presidency of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd. But it was Father Rannie who came closest to the truth when he opined in August last year that PNoy has “a gangster concept of democracy.”  The outburst was provoked when the president challenged and threatened the Supreme Court after it ruled decisively against his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in July last year. Explaining his point, Fr Aquino wrote:
“[Aquino]has always thought of himself as above law, above criticism and above fault because he has always been able to count on the adulation of the multitudes. In other words, this pathetic excuse for a President has a ‘gangster’ conception of democracy. As long as his gang is numerous enough to silence all opposition, ‘the king can do no wrong.’ “ Ramming the BBL bill through Congress That gangsterism is now again on display in his efforts to ram through Congress the patently unconstitutional, foolhardy and dangerous Bangsamoro BasicLaw (BBL) bill as written by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] and Malacañang with help from Malaysia. With the aged Speaker Feliciano Belmonte serving as his Capo (mafia term for captain), PNoy has tendered the members of Congress an offer they cannot refuse – a big signing bonus Those in danger of prosecution for misusing their pork barrel will be spared from prosecution. Like the movie mogul in the movie “The Godfather” who found the severed head of his prize horse in his bed, the members of the ad hoc committee hearing the Bangsamoro bill have promptly caved. READ MORE...

ALSO from Manila Bulletin: BBL faces strong challenge


MAY 21 ---House minority bloc vows to block measure; Senate ensuring it will withstand constitutional challenges. The 19-man House minority bloc yesterday vowed to block the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) when it is presented in plenary; while the Senate is not rushing its passage to make sure the peace measure will withstand all constitutional challenges. House Minority Leader and San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora said his group will have a solid “no” vote against the supposed Malacañang version of the peace measure, which was approved by the House Ad Hoc Committee yesterday. “The minority cannot support the version that they are adopting. We will vote no for this final version and this is not only for us in the minority, even within the different groups composing the majority,” he told reporters during a press conference. He expressed belief that some members of the majority bloc will join them in opposing the approved version of House Bill 4994. “I don’t want to second guess the members of the majority but I think at some point they will start listening not just to what their conscience says but to what their constituents are saying. Listen to your conscience and listen to what your constituents are saying,” Zamora said. “And so we saw the voting in the past two days, malinaw naman (it was clear) essentially yung (the) Malacañang draft ang inaprubahan (was the one approved) with just few amendments na nakalusot (that got through). So I think, yan na yung magiging (that will be the) pattern for the larger voting in the plenary na (that) more or less na lilinya rin sa administrasyon yung karamihan ng mga kongresista (majority will toe the line of the administration),” he pointed out. READ MORE...

ALSO Bulletin 'Punchline': There’s still hope in ‘peace’ but presidential ‘war’ worsens


MAY 19 ---Fred M. Lobo Punchline He is a columnist for the Manila Bulletin, under the title, “Punchline.” He has published notable books, all in English, the most famous of which is the 1998 book entitled, “Fidel Valdez Ramos, The Centennial President: Vision, Action & Statemanship.” FROM MANNILA BULLETIN HOMEPAGE 
President Aquino III expresses hope on the final passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and in the restoration of peace in Mindanao. There’s still promise for the Land of Promise, PNoy says. ***  Malacanang says it is expecting Congress to pass the BBL before its adjournment on June 11 and in time for PNoy’s last State of the Nation Address on July 27. It will be ”a historical document” after birth pains, adds the President. *** “ We hope that our lawmakers will consider the national interest and the welfare of the people in Mindanao in making their decision,” Malacanang adds through Presidential Communications Sec. Herminio Coloma, Jr.  The national interest and people’s welfare must prevail, the Palace says. ***  The President cites former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, a member of the National Peace Council that reviewed the proposed BBL, for saying that the draft BBL is constitutionally sound and defensible. Let’s listen to legal and constitutional experts, he suggests. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:


MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL

Betraying our trust May 20, 2015 at 12:01am

SOMEWHERE in the Book of Liars, there is a star by the name of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

The historical footnote will observe that Rodriguez, given the opportunity to do his country a great service, chose instead to lie, not only to his constituents but also to the rest of the nation.

Rodriguez, chairman of the ad hoc committee in the House that is scrutinizing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), could have kept his promise to allow extensive and open debates. He also could have kept his oft-repeated vow to remove eight unconstitutional provisions in the Palace-drafted bill.

This week, Rodriguez did neither of these things.

Instead, after two mysterious meetings at the Palace with President Benigno Aquino III and other congressional leaders over the weekend, Rodriguez is now shoveling coal into an express train to ram the BBL through the congressional mill, with as few changes as humanly possible.

Instead of honoring an earlier decision by the panel to assign a technical working group to draft a revised BBL incorporating all the proposed amendments, Rodriguez whipped out his own “chairman’s draft” that might well have been printed in some Palace backroom.

Only two of the eight unconstitutional provisions were stricken from the so-called chairman’s draft.

READ MORE...
Arguably one of the most egregious, the so-called opt-in provision, was left intact, giving areas contiguous to the Bangsamoro autonomous region the ability to join it after its formation, by filing a petition for a plebiscite. Neighboring provinces that have no desire whatsoever to join the Bangsamoro have denounced this opt-in provision as a form of creeping expansionism in favor of the new Bangsamoro region.

Fortified by whatever promises—or threats—that were made in the two mysterious meetings in the Palace, the majority in the House now seems eager to push ahead with the Palace-approved chairman’s draft of the BBL. Voting, in fact, has already begun, and if the pattern holds, no significant variation from the Palace-drafted measure will survive the majority vote. From there, it will be on to the plenary where the President’s super-majority will crush any objections in its way.

Will the Senate race down the same shameful road taken by the House? And will it abide by the President’s politically motivated deadline for the BBL’s passage?

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who heads the committee on local governments that is studying the BBL, seems more interested in a thorough and genuine debate on what he describes as a major piece of legislation that must not be rushed. But in the end, he is just one vote in a chamber of 24 dominated by the ruling Liberal Party and its allies. And we know full well, too, thanks to Congressman Rodriguez’s spectacular about-face this week, the folly of putting our trust in the word of a politician.


MANILA TIMES

BBL clears House panel May 20, 2015 11:48 pm by LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTER


President Benigno Aquino III continues to push for the passage of controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law. (Screen grabbed from internet) Malacanang apparently feels pressured as Congress is set to vote on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law today. PHOTO FROM DZRH NEWS

IN an apparent show of force, congressmen allied with the administration who are members of an ad hoc committee that reviewed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday voted to endorse the measure for plenary discussion next week.

In a vote of 48 in favor, 18 against and one abstention, the House committee approved the amended BBL bill as well as the committee report.

The approved committee report is now formally named as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The committee deliberated on the measure in a 13-hour marathon hearing, which lasted until late Tuesday night.

Critics of the draft BBL said Malacañang had a hand in the crafting of the working draft. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez Jr., who heads the ad hoc committee, however, vehemently denied the allegation, saying the panel incorporated 95 proposed amendments from various lawmakers.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday expressed confidence that the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will not be railroaded in the Senate like what happened in the House of Representatives ad hoc committee, as claimed by some progressive legislators.

“I don’t think so because our senators are very independent-minded,” Marcos said in a radio interview with asked on the possibility that the BBL will be railroaded in the Senate.

What’s next?

READ MORE...
The draft BBL as approved by the committee will now be subjected to voting under the appropriations and ways and means committees.

The proposed BBL establishes a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region that will enjoy fiscal autonomy and governed by a parliament elected by residents of the region. President Benigno Aquino 3rd transmitted the draft BBL to the House of Representatives last September.

The proposed BBL is a product of decades of negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Rodriguez said it is unprecedented in the history of the House of Representatives that at least 50 hearings were conducted in nine months and 91 lawmakers participated in crafting this piece of legislation.

“This will cure centuries of inherited disadvantages of our Muslim brothers sisters, as well as the neglect and injustices inflicted on them. I am from Mindanao and I’d like to see the children of our Muslim brothers and sisters having the same opportunity as the children in Christian communities…the same opportunity for good education, health and employment,” he pointed out.

“They [Muslim children] should not be judged by their culture or religion but seen as a person with human dignity. They should be with us in development,” Rodriguez said.

Before the voting, the committee approved an amendment proposed by Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal to remove the word “abolishing” in the final title of the draft.

Race against time Malacañang also on Wednesday said passing the BBL is practically a race against time and the President is working double-time to convince lawmakers to immediately approve the measure.

Also, its spokesman Edwin Lacierda said delay in the bill’s passage was caused by the infamous Mamasapano incident that sidetracked Congress.

“I think we should recognize the fact that time is getting short… For the situation in Mamasapano obviously delayed the timetable for us,” he added.

Lacierda said proponents of the bill have a lot of catching up to do and this is the reason why the President has been making the rounds among leaders of Congress to fast-track its passage.

“And we need to catch up. We need to also make sure that as we previously stated the need for capacity-building. We need to also capacitate the people from Mindanao, those who are going to take on leadership to ensure that they are equipped with capabilities to govern the area,” he explained.

“So that’s an important thing and also to prepare the entire Bangsamoro for the eventual synchronization of elections in 2016,” Lacierda said.

He further explained that the BBL has to be passed soon because under the Constitution, a referendum has to happen.

Voices of dissent An hour before the start of Wednesday’s voting, the minority bloc led by Minority Floor Leader Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan City (Metro Manila) said it will thumb down the measure.

But Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Sitti Hataman thanked her colleagues for voting favorably on the BBL.

“I said yes today because the BBL recognizes our right to self-determination. This [proposed] law does not give us anything new. It does not give us anything which doesn’t belong to us hundreds of years ago,” Hataman, wife of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman, said.

But for Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list and Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, the BBL raises questions instead of being reassuring.

Alejano said the government still continued to push for the BBL–a product of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)–even if the MILF admitted that its members who were involved in the killing of Special Action Force members in Mamasapano are yet to be charged with criminal cases.

“No member of the MILF has faced charges over what happened in Mamasapano. How can we have the trust and confidence that they will be our partners in the implementation of the BBL?,” Alejano, a former Marine captain who fought the MILF, said.

“I voted no because despite the clear non-compliance [with the peace agreement] on the part of MILF, the government still pushed for this measure, which primarily benefits the MILF. This is sending the wrong signal,” he added.

Rep. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City was incensed over retention of a provision that allows contiguous cities and municipalities to be part of the Bangsamoro core area and those under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement to be part of the Bangsamoro Region upon petition of at least 10 percent of registered voters and approva; by a majority of qualified votes cast in a plebiscite.

Lobregat said the provision “unjustly” covers Zamboanga City, as well as the cities of Dipolog and Pagadian, and as such, runs counter to the Constitution.

‘This BBL is against the Constitution and will make life difficult for the adjoining areas. We are allowing them [Filipino Muslims] to declare independence and secede,” he added.. Opposition lawmakers have warned their colleagues against voting in favor of the BBL, claiming it would establish a larger Bangsamoro region and dissipate their legislative districts.

The Bangsamoro core area is composed of the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte and all other barangay (villages) in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the autonomous region during the 2001 plebiscite, as well as the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.

The Tripoli agreement, on the other hand, covered 13 provinces for the formation of an autonomous government for the Bangsamoro people including: Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Palawan.

Since Sarangani was still a part of South Cotabato and Zamboanga Sibugay belonged to Zamboanga del Sur during the time that the Tripoli agreement was signed in 1976, these provinces can opt to join the Bangsamoro Region thru a plebiscite within five to 10 years after the BBL is enacted into law.

“There are areas that are included now even if these were already excluded in the previous plebiscite [in 2001]. Why are these suddenly in play? And what would prevent other places from following suit? They [lawmakers] should start listening not just to their conscience but to what their constituents are saying [on the BBL],” Zamora said in a news conference.

Black propaganda Rodriguez denied allegations that Malacañang bribed lawmakers to vote for the passage of the proposed BBL.

“That is certainly false. That is black propaganda. There is no promise of anything. The detractors of this bill have always sent information like that,” he said.

“There is no truth to that. There will be no offer. There has been no offer. There will be none. And there will be none which will be accepted.”

The lawmaker cited an alleged incident where Malaysian authorities paid off members of the House of Representatives at P50 million each in exchange for supporting the bill.

He said no money from Malacañang was given to supporters of the proposed law.

“We are wiser than that. There is no offer from Malacañang. There is no money involved. We are voting for this because the Bangsamoro needs this law for their development,” Rodriguez added. WITH JOEL M. SY EGCO


MANILA TIMES COMMENTARY

BBL and Aquino’s gangster concept of democracy May 20, 2015 10:48 pm YEN MAKABENTA


by YEN MAKABENTA

It should not take another Aquino—Fr. Ranhilo Aquino (no relation to the president)—to pinpoint the perversion of governance under the presidency of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd. But it was Father Rannie who came closest to the truth when he opined in August last year that PNoy has “a gangster concept of democracy.”

The outburst was provoked when the president challenged and threatened the Supreme Court after it ruled decisively against his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in July last year.

Explaining his point, Fr Aquino wrote:

“[Aquino]has always thought of himself as above law, above criticism and above fault because he has always been able to count on the adulation of the multitudes. In other words, this pathetic excuse for a President has a ‘gangster’ conception of democracy. As long as his gang is numerous enough to silence all opposition, ‘the king can do no wrong.’ “

Ramming the BBL bill through Congress

That gangsterism is now again on display in his efforts to ram through Congress the patently unconstitutional, foolhardy and dangerous Bangsamoro BasicLaw (BBL) bill as written by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] and Malacañang with help from Malaysia.

With the aged Speaker Feliciano Belmonte serving as his Capo (mafia term for captain), PNoy has tendered the members of Congress an offer they cannot refuse – a big signing bonus Those in danger of prosecution for misusing their pork barrel will be spared from prosecution.

Like the movie mogul in the movie “The Godfather” who found the severed head of his prize horse in his bed, the members of the ad hoc committee hearing the Bangsamoro bill have promptly caved.

READ MORE..
Speaker Belmonte will now move swiftly to have the BBL bill debated and approved by the entire House before June11, when Congress is set to adjourn.

The bill will then be passed on to the Senate, where another capo, Senate President Franklin Drilon, is itching to get the baton and herd the senators to approve the measure. But here the project faces a big problem in Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who chairs the Senate committee that is reviewing the measure and will finalize the draft bill for debate by the Senate.

In a statement last Tuesday, Marcos called on the Palace to desist from setting a deadline for Congress to approve the bill.

Betrayal of the national interest

The events unfolding in Congress because of the BBL bill have obscured public perception of the fundamental defects of the proposed BBL, and the even more fundamentally defective Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which is supposed to be the reason why there should be a Bangsamoro and a Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Jemy Gatdula of the School of Law and Governance at the University of Asia and the Pacific has spelled out clearly and persuasively the reasons why Congress must not pass the BBL. Jemy is a lawyer and law professor, and his field of specialization is international law, which he studied at Cambridge University.

Gatdula’s case against the Bangsamoro project can be summarized as follows:

1. A close reading of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the present drafts of the Bangsamoro Basic Law leads to only one rational conclusion: They are not in the interest of the Philippines.

2. The CAB effectively serves to provide a legal cover to the MILF’s claim for statehood. The BBL then supplies the resources and implementing wherewithal to carry out that claim. Mohagher Iqbal is a very able negotiator indeed. And Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is a fool.

3. Under the CAB, all four international law elements of a State have been granted to the Bangsamoro: namely, people, government, territory and the capacity to enter into international agreements.

These elements are spelled out in specific provisions of the CAB.

4. In addition, the CAB also provides police powers, taxation, and eminent domain. It even gave executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. At this point, for the Philippines to refuse “recognition” to the Bangsamoro is inutile. Nothing is stopping the MILF from declaring anytime that they are now the “Bangsamoro” State. No recognition is required from other States (as recognition is not an element for Statehood).

5. The Philippine government, by agreeing to terms in the CAB like “armed conflict”, “self-governance”, “combatants”, the “justness” and “legitimacy” of the “cause of the Bangsamoro”, and the unwitting use of the term “self-determination”, and the participation of other States in the process arguably elevated the CAB to the level of an international instrument.

6. The CAB and BBL are full of references to the Bangsamoro’s right to “self-determination.” Under international law, the term “self-determination essentially means “secession.”

Gatdula concludes his paper with this warning: even if Congress produces a BBL conforming to the Constitution, the MILF can disregard the same by saying that such BBL does not comply with a binding international agreement that is the CAB.

This is how badly our people and our nation have been served by President Aquino and his negotiators. They thought they were at liberty to throw away our national sovereignty.

Unknowing and unwilling to learn, Aquino does not comprehend in the least how his gangster concept of democracy has placed the nation in grave peril.

Authority lies in Congress

Some intellectually dishonest priests, businessmen and citizens have tried to rationalize the Bangsamoro project by engaging in legal sophistry and delusional thinking that the BBL bill if passed will bring peace to Mindanao.

Some independent minds in Congress know better, however. They know the dangers embodied by the BBL bill if enacted into law. They know that the unambiguous authority on this issue of the Bangsamoro lies in Congress and nowhere else. Legislators do not have to justify to the Pesident that it is their sworn duty under the Constitution to make law and protect the Republic and the people.

Aquino has no authority under the Constitution to cede a single square meter of Philippine soil to a Moro state. Even a gangster should understand that.


MANILA BULLETIN

BBL faces strong challenge by Hannah L. Torregoza and Charissa M. Luci May 21, 2015


House minority bloc vows to block measure; Senate ensuring it will withstand constitutional challenges.

The 19-man House minority bloc yesterday vowed to block the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) when it is presented in plenary; while the Senate is not rushing its passage to make sure the peace measure will withstand all constitutional challenges.

House Minority Leader and San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora said his group will have a solid “no” vote against the supposed Malacañang version of the peace measure, which was approved by the House Ad Hoc Committee yesterday.

“The minority cannot support the version that they are adopting. We will vote no for this final version and this is not only for us in the minority, even within the different groups composing the majority,” he told reporters during a press conference.

He expressed belief that some members of the majority bloc will join them in opposing the approved version of House Bill 4994.

“I don’t want to second guess the members of the majority but I think at some point they will start listening not just to what their conscience says but to what their constituents are saying. Listen to your conscience and listen to what your constituents are saying,” Zamora said.

“And so we saw the voting in the past two days, malinaw naman (it was clear) essentially yung (the) Malacañang draft ang inaprubahan (was the one approved) with just few amendments na nakalusot (that got through). So I think, yan na yung magiging (that will be the) pattern for the larger voting in the plenary na (that) more or less na lilinya rin sa administrasyon yung karamihan ng mga kongresista (majority will toe the line of the administration),” he pointed out.

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE

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While the BBL is now set for plenary voting at the House of Representatives, senators are not about to rush its passage. They insist on the need to ensure that the draft measure would be able to withstand “any and all” challenges on its constitutionality.

Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Senate Committee on Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation chairman, said lawmakers must bear in mind the Constitution “remains the primary and supreme framework for peace negotiations.”

“We have to keep in mind that we will have to submit the final draft to a plebiscite. It must, therefore, be clear and understandable in order to rally support,” Guingona said.

Guingona, a known ally of the Aquino administration, pointed out the BBL is “intended to live longer than its authors.”

“It is important that those who be left to implement it are clear as to the meaning and objectives of its contents,” he emphasized.

He warned that serious challenges to the constitutionality of the proposed law could only result to greater instability in Mindanao and put at risk peoples’ trust and confidence in the peace process.

Nevertheless, the senator said the spirit and intent of the agreements reached during the peace process should be maintained while constitutional guidelines are observed at all times.

“The proposed BBL is an instrument in the peace process aimed at improving the life of the people in the areas to be covered by it,” he pointed out.

PROVISIONS IN QUESTION

Zamora’s group specifically opposed the expansion of the Bangsamoro region. Zamora said 15 provinces – some of these are Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Maguindano, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Palawan – will be included in the new region in reference to the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.

“Perhaps, the congressmen representing these provinces are not completely aware about these consequences,” he said,

Deputy Minority Leader and YACAP Partylist Rep. Carol Lopez and Zamboanga Rep. Seth Jalosjos strongly opposed the inclusion of their home provinces – Sarangani and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Lopez said a total of 15 provinces involving 28 congressmen will be affected, including Sarangani.

He expressed hope some of the congressmen in Mindanao will realize that we’re not just talking about the core territories included in the original version of the BBL, but those that are affected now.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares maintained the Makabayan bloc’s strong opposition against the BBL, saying that it does not give real autonomy to the Bangsamoro region and it fails to address the root causes of armed conflict in Mindanao.

PRESSURE DENIED

Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon rejected insinuations of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that there is a concerted effort to pressure both houses of Congress to rush the passage of the BBL before June 11 to serve its “political deadline.” “Why not rush it? We needed peace like yesterday. Nobody is rushing it, but we should not delay it,” Drilon told reporters in an interview.

“The contentious issues will be debated upon. Nobody will impose anything on anyone. We will debate on it and try to address possible solutions,” he said.

Senators, he said, can suggest amendments to the BBL during the period of individual amendments during plenary sessions.

“In the Senate you can have line-by-line, period-by-period amendments. You have seen how the Senate works, the period of individual amendments. Every senator has the right to suggest an individual amendment,” Drilon said.

“We have a period of individual amendments where each senator can suggest amendments and have it voted upon in the floor,” the Senate leader said.

MNLF DIVIDED

As this developed, four groups of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are divided on the contentious BBL.

Habib Mujahab Hashim, who chairs the Islamic Command Council (MNLF-ICC), made this observation yesterday.

He said the four MNLF groups are the ones led by founding Chairman Nur P. Misuari; the group of former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin G. Sema; the group under former MNLF vice chairman Abul Khayr Alonto; and the MNLF-ICC.

“My group and Brother Nur are against the BBL; the Sema group and the Alonto group support the BBL,” said Hashim.

“It is now official, the four groups of the MNLF do not see eye-to-eye on the BBL, they do not have the same stand,” he said.

Abdul Sahrin, secretary general of the MNLF-Sema group, said their stand on the BBL affirms the “convergence” of the MNLF and MILF peace process as enunciated by the OIC.

He added that, “If the BBL is enacted into law, then the peace gains of the MNLF should not be lost.”

Alonto called for the immediate passage of the BBL, saying it gives an opportunity for peace and economic development in Mindanao. (With a report from Edd K. Usman)


MANILA BULLETIN 'PUNCHLINE'

There’s still hope in ‘peace’ but presidential ‘war’ worsens by Fred M. Lobo May 19, 2015

President Aquino III expresses hope on the final passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and in the restoration of peace in Mindanao.

There’s still promise for the Land of Promise, PNoy says.

***

Malacanang says it is expecting Congress to pass the BBL before its adjournment on June 11 and in time for PNoy’s last State of the Nation Address on July 27.

It will be ”a historical document” after birth pains, adds the President.

***

“ We hope that our lawmakers will consider the national interest and the welfare of the people in Mindanao in making their decision,” Malacanang adds through Presidential Communications Sec. Herminio Coloma, Jr.

The national interest and people’s welfare must prevail, the Palace says.

***

The President cites former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, a member of the National Peace Council that reviewed the proposed BBL, for saying that the draft BBL is constitutionally sound and defensible.

Let’s listen to legal and constitutional experts, he suggests.

***

READ MORE...
Likewise, Mr.Aquino says his administration is not threatened by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM), armed groups that are against the passage of the BBL.

JIM founder Mohhamad Ali Tambako has already been arrested while BIFF has been “significantly reduced,” he says.

***

The President points out that more Filipinos in Mindanao no longer think of joining armed groups because the government was able to provide the area with basic services and the military was likewise able to thwart violence.

We will not allow Mindanao to be left behind, Mr. Aquino vows.

***

Meanwhile, the President denies allegations that the administration party is behind the freeze order on the bank accounts of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, his kin, and alleged associates, in the wake of alleged corruption.

There’s no politics here, he says.

***

Defending the ruling Liberal Party (LP), Mr. Aquino says the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), involved in the issuance of the freeze order against Binay’s assets, are both independent bodies.

No hand in VPNay’s tight plight, says PNoy.

***

On the other hand, Binay maintains that he has no hidden wealth and accuses the AMLC of being part of a “conspiracy to destroy him because of next year’s presidential elections.”

The AMLC supplied wrong information to the CA, he complains.

***

“With the leakage of the AMLC report, it is clear that my detractors are willing to violate the law in their bid to malign me,” Binay says.

Politics is “war.” What now VPNay?

***

But Binay says he will pursue his presidential bid whatever happens.

It’s still no surrender for Rambotito.

***

LP leaders say that they are now in the process of choosing their “formidable presidential team” from among DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, Sen. Grace Poe, and Sen. Chiz Escudero.

It would be either Roxas-Poe, Grace-Mar, or Grace-Chiz. The “cooking” begins.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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