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

HOUSE PASSES PROPOSED BBL, 50-17
[Fears about the inclusion of provinces in the Tripoli Agreement].


MAY 21 ---REP. RUFUS RODRIGUEZ  A clause was added to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the last minute to allow at least 10 provinces outside the core territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to join the new Bangsamoro region. The BBL committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 50-17, with one abstention, to approve the bill, clearing the way for the submission of the measure, renamed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, to at least two other committees for further scrutiny. The vote by the 75-member body ended three days of marathon sessions on the 109-page bill, marked by heated exchanges and allegations of Malacañang involvement in the preparation of the working draft and influencing the vote. Lawmakers in the minority sounded alarm bells on Wednesday over a last-minute clause that could dramatically expand the territory of the Bangsamoro through plebiscites in the fifth or 10th year after the passage of the bill. Under Article 3, Section 3, of House Bill No. 4996, “any local government unit (LGU) or geographical area outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro, but which are contiguous to any of the component units of the Bangsamoro and within the area of autonomy identified in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, may opt to be part of the Bangsamoro by filing a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters of the interested LGU or geographical area.”  READ MORE...

ALSO Inquirer commentary: Rethinking the BBL


MAY 12 ---FROM THE intense national discourse on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, it is apparent that the Moro homeland concept is undermined by constitutional infirmities. Short of absolute sovereignty, the Bangsamoro will have all the attributes of a state—a caliphate, if you will: a defined territory, a permanent population, and a government that mimics every aspect of the central government. There is considerable skepticism about the BBL because it goes against the grain of a key constitutional precept, the inviolability of the separation of Church and State. While it scrupulously tries to evade any reference to Islam, it stumbles in the sections on concurrent and exclusive powers, making it clear that Shari’ah law will prevail and the Bangsamoro will operate according to the strictures of this faith. The difficulty here is that the strands of governance, law, conduct and religion are tightly woven in Islam. It will be fascinating to see how Congress will reform provisions that funnel taxpayer money into a Shari’ah justice system, madrasas, and a range of religious activities that underpin Islamic society. Our main concern here is that Shari’ah and madrasas might inhibit the growth of knowledge and literacy rates in a way that, in turn, will also inhibit the Bangsamoro’s capacity to adapt to the startling pace of technology, modernization and innovation. READ MORE...

ALSO from the Tribune: House rubberstamps Noy’s BBL version


MAY 21 ---DANGEROUS PROVISIONS REMAIN — SOLONS The House ad hoc panel on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) yesterday rubberstamped the measure seeking to create a Muslim substate handed down by the Palace with a vote of 50 against 17, one abstained, clearing the way for the bill to be tackled in the House plenary. Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, who has been continuously frustrated in introducing amendments to the BBL said dangerous provisions continue to exist in the draft. The provision granting the Bangsamoro chief minister operational control and supervision over the region’s police must be removed, Lobregat said. He said the Bangsamoro chief minister having control over the police force in the proposed political entity gives him too much power. Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap labeled the approved BBL as “inedible for the Moro masses.” “The supposed interest of the poor sectors of the Moro people is inexistent in BBL, hence, our vote was ‘no’,” Hicap said after the conclusion of the voting.  Hicap noted the amended BBL provisions such as in Article VIII regarding Basic Rights, and on Social Justice provisions, were devoid of any mention of the farmers’ rights to land or any concretization of genuine agrarian reform program within the Moro area. “We consider that the Moro people are marginalized as its majority, the farmers do not have any land, the vast tracks of lands are controlled by big landlords and warlords. BBL did not resolve this, instead, it would worsen it,” Hicap said. Members of the House Minority bloc warned their colleagues against voting in favor of the BBL when it goes to the plenary.READ MORE...

ALSO Tribune editorial: Lapdogs vote as a pack


MAY 20 ---The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is going through some serious ramming down the gullet process at the House, unseen since the previous administration when paper bags of money were shamelessly given to members of the House for them to toe the Palace line.
In the advent of the “tuwid na daan” (straight path) crap of Noynoy, nothing essentially has changed. The Palace imposed its will on the House ad hoc committee on the BBL and its lapdogs have adopted the Malacañang version instead of its own which was painstakingly drafted after months of public hearings mainly in Mindanao. The draft was apparently handed down to panel chairman Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his vice chairmen after a “beneficial” meeting with Noynoy over the weekend.
Of course all of the lapdogs went home wagging their tails after the meeting since they have been voting as a pack in the current deliberation of the panel on the bill. No need to wonder why they voted as a pack.
As a result, most of the unconstitutional provisions of the bill were reinstated and voted on by the House lapdogs. Essentially, the Palace draft is the original BBL it submitted with some very minor modifications.
Chief lapdog Speaker Sonny Belmonte committed the BBL’s passage and what will pass will be the Palace version. Yet he had the face to assure the Palace that no watering down will happen to the bill. Belmonte said it will be the Supreme Court that will determine whether the contested provisions in BBL are constitutional or not. READ MORE...

ALSO from Malaya: House panel approves BBL; Critics see measure as unjust, unfair


MAY 21 ---Senator Bongbong Marcos and MNLF Chairman Ambassador Datu Abul Khayr Alonto listens as Peace Process Undersecretary Jose Lorena explains 13 etho-linguistic groups in the Bangsamoro, including Christian settlers and non-Moros have been invited to a May 25  Senate hearing Malaya file photo 
PRESIDENT Aquino’s allies at the House of Representatives yesterday overwhelmingly approved the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the committee level, reneging on an earlier promise that the Palace-backed measure would not be approved without major amendments.
With a vote of 50 against 17 with one abstention, the ad hoc panel chaired by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez approved House Bill 4994, after administration congressmen consistently rejected most of the amendments proposed by critics of the measure, led by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat. “I am for peace but not at the expense of the Republic,” said Lobregat, who voted against the measure which will create a Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao. The measure is now called the proposed “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.” It will have to be heard first by the House committee on appropriation and on ways and means because of monetary aspects of the bill. It will then be scheduled for plenary sponsorship, likely next week, by the committee on rules chaired by majority leader Neptali Gonzales II. Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg abstained, wary of the possible inclusion of his province in the proposed region. READ MORE...

ALSO Malaya commentary: ‘Yes to peace, but No to the BBL’!
[Every Filipino seeks an enduring peace, but not one obtained furtively and ignores the red flags that could further fragment society, dismember the country and cause more bloodshed. The Comprehensive Agreement on BangsaMoro and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (CAB-BBL), as signed and originally submitted to Congress should be stoutly opposed and rejected.]


MAY 21 --by NESTOR MATA 
NOT only eminent jurists,constitutionalists and legal experts, and pundits and political commentators in print and broadcast media, but also a majority of concerned citizens are against the approval by Congress of President Noynoy Aquino’s constitutionally-flawed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL.
The group of Filipino citizens, led by Rafael M. Alunan III, who served as Secretary of Tourism under former President Cory Aquino, and Secretary of the Interior and Local Government under former President Fidel V. Ramos, called on all members of the Senate and the House of Representatives not to pass the proposed BBL. In their Manifesto’s preamble the concerned citizens stated that “Today, we find our nation in peril and our democratic way of life under threat, both externally and from within. All too often, the common good and national interests are sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, corruption and self-serving hidden agendas. The government is increasingly alienating itself from the people it has sworn to serve. “Nowhere is this disconnect from reality more pronounced than on the issue of the Peace Process that the government has undertaken exclusively with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that produced the Comprehensive Agreement on  BangsaMoro (CAB), and the BangsaMoro Basic Law (BBL), a proposed bill that seeks to replace Republic Act No. 6734 that created the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao without justifiable cause, in clear violation of the principles of Public International Law.  “We believe that a significant majority of the population in Mindanao, and around the country, opposes the CAB-BBL. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO from GMA Network: House panel approves Bangsamoro Basic Law
[Under the proposed legislation, the autonomous Bangsamoro government will be parliamentary in form, to be headed by a Chief Minister. ]


MAY 20 ---Members of the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law vote on the amendments of the proposed legislation on Tuesday, May 19, the second day of the voting. GMA News House panel votes on BBL amendments House panel votes on BBL amendments. Members of the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law vote on the amendments of the proposed legislation on Tuesday, May 19, the second day of the voting. GMA News (Updated 5:40 p.m.) The House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday voted to approve the measure formalizing the creation of a new political entity that will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Voting 50-17 with one abstention, the panel approved the committee report on the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region after two days of marathon hearings where committee members voted on each of the provisions contained in the bill. The result of the voting was announced by panel chairman, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday afternoon. Some of the lawmakers who voted for the bill’s passage expressed their reservation about certain provisions, indicating their intent to question or introduce amendments when plenary debates begin. Following the ad hoc panel’s approval of the bill, the measure will be deliberated on by the joint committee on appropriations and ways and means, which will iron out details on funding its implementation. It is expected to be introduced to the plenary either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. READ MORE...

ALSO GMA Network commentary: Heed the clamor of the Bangsamoro for justice and lasting peace


MAY 18 ---By SENEN BACANI  The coming weeks are going to be crucial for the entire country, as the House of Representatives and the Senate decide on the fate of one of the most important legislation ever to pass through the legislative mill -- the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL is on top of the legislative agenda submitted by President Aquino to the two chambers of Congress last year during his State of the Nation Address. It is the proposed legal iteration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed after 17 years of contentious negotiations by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It seeks to end decades of conflict in Mindanao, thus bringing peace, security, and development to Mindanao, and the entire country. Basically, the BBL proposes to establish the Bangsamoro, a new political entity with greater political and fiscal autonomy than the existing Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that it would replace once created. It would end not only the MILF-led conflict. It will start a new era of Moro autonomy, a concept that was first introduced in the 1987 Constitution to settle the Moro quest for self-governance and self-determination. The Bangsamoro is our solution to finding just and lasting peace for Mindanao and the entire country. It provides greater political autonomy to the region that the Moros and the other peoples of the region have fought and longed for, and a constitutional remedy to the centuries of historical injustice suffered by the Moros. This is a partial fulfillment of the commitment made by President Aquino at the start of his administration, when he pledged to end all armed conflict in the country through political settlement. Conflict is very harsh and inflicts a very deep wound in the psyche of all of us Filipinos. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace confident of BBL constitutionality as Miriam sees SC litigation


MAY 21 ---Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said the BBL should not be approved in its present form and that legislation will spark Supreme Court litigation. Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal 
 Malacañang is confident that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will stand the legal questions against it that Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is expecting to see before the Supreme Court. In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. insisted that the controversial measure is constitutional. "Simula sa pagbubuo nitong BBL ay isinaalang-alang na ang bawat probisyon nito ay dapat tumalima sa Saligang Batas," Coloma said. While he recognized that there are lawmakers like Santiago who oppose the BBL, Coloma said it is the entire Congress which will pass the proposed law. "Mayroong mga ilang mambabatas na nagpapahayag ng kanilang opinyon. Ganunpaman, ang magpapasya dito ay ang buong Kamara at buong Senado, hindi lang naman iilan," he said. Coloma said the critics of the BBL are free to question its legality before the Supreme Court. "Ayon sa proseso ng ating batas, kung mayroong nais kumwestyon sa legalidad pagkatapos maipasa ang isang batas, may pagkakataon silang ihain ang kanilang petisyon sa Korte Suprema," he said. READ MORE

ALSO from ABS-CBN:  READ: BBL draft approved by House ad hoc committee

And watch ABS-CBN Senate Video:

MAY 20 ---The House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law has officially adopted for endorsement to the plenary a substitute bill for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:


TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Lapdogs vote as a pack Written by Tribune Editorial Wednesday, 20 May 2015 00:00

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is going through some serious ramming down the gullet process at the House, unseen since the previous administration when paper bags of money were shamelessly given to members of the House for them to toe the Palace line.

In the advent of the “tuwid na daan” (straight path) crap of Noynoy, nothing essentially has changed.

The Palace imposed its will on the House ad hoc committee on the BBL and its lapdogs have adopted the Malacañang version instead of its own which was painstakingly drafted after months of public hearings mainly in Mindanao.

The draft was apparently handed down to panel chairman Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his vice chairmen after a “beneficial” meeting with Noynoy over the weekend.

Of course all of the lapdogs went home wagging their tails after the meeting since they have been voting as a pack in the current deliberation of the panel on the bill. No need to wonder why they voted as a pack.

As a result, most of the unconstitutional provisions of the bill were reinstated and voted on by the House lapdogs. Essentially, the Palace draft is the original BBL it submitted with some very minor modifications.

Chief lapdog Speaker Sonny Belmonte committed the BBL’s passage and what will pass will be the Palace version. Yet he had the face to assure the Palace that no watering down will happen to the bill.

Belmonte said it will be the Supreme Court that will determine whether the contested provisions in BBL are constitutional or not.

READ MORE...
The supposed committee sessions to decide the final draft of the BBL before it is presented to the plenary became a farce with the line voting of the bill automatically favoring the Palace draft which many of the members of the ad hoc body have not even read.

The lapdogs as expected to vote as a pack to frustrate efforts to make key revisions in the bill.
Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat who proposed most of the amendments to the bill and lost all, said eight provisions that have been deleted since these clearly violated provisions of the Constitution. Not surprisingly, the ad hoc panel, which agreed on the eight provisions as amended by the committee during the 48 previous hearings of the panel, restored all, as seen from the Palace draft which was affirmatively accepted by the majority, all Noynoy’s lapdogs.

Lobregat said the turn of events is not exactly what he had expected since it was impressed on him during the meeting that heads of the House panel have made a convincing case to Noynoy on introducing amendments to the bill.

Lobregat described the meeting as a dialog “for us to tell the President that these are our proposed amendments. It was an exchange of ideas. We impressed on him that certainly, there has to be changes to the bill to get the support of the members of the ad hoc committee.”

Lobregat also questioned the version of the bill rammed down the House members’ throat protesting that the panel did not allow the chairman and vice chairmen to act as members of a technical working group (TWG), which was tasked to consolidate various versions of the bill.

The Palace draft was even presented to members of the House panel, composed of 75 regular members and 23 ex-officio members, on Monday morning prior to the afternoon’s voting.

Among the many amendments that the lapdogs tore to shreds was Lobregat’s proposal to edit the Preamble so that it would define Bangsamoro people as “Filipinos residing in the Bangsamoro (region).”

Under the Palace draft, only two of the original eight deleted provisions were retained: the one requiring a coordination protocol between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro government prior to every operation in the area and another provision creating a disciplinary authority over officials in the region which is similar to the Office of the Ombudsman.

The provisions restored were the creation of a separate Bangsamoro electoral body as the election body in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous entity; the creation of a civil service office similar to the functions of the Civil Service Commission; the establishment of a Bangsamoro Commission on Audit; and the creation of a human rights body which will have jurisdiction over all human rights violations within the region.

The Palace got what it wanted and Noynoy should be asked: At what cost again?


MALAYA

House panel approves BBL; Critics see measure as unjust, unfair Submitted by WENDELL VIGILIA on May 21, 2015


Senator Bongbong Marcos and MNLF Chairman Ambassador Datu Abul Khayr Alonto listens as Peace Process Undersecretary Jose Lorena explains 13 etho-linguistic groups in the Bangsamoro, including Christian settlers and non-Moros have been invited to a May 25  Senate hearing Malaya file photo

PRESIDENT Aquino’s allies at the House of Representatives yesterday overwhelmingly approved the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the committee level, reneging on an earlier promise that the Palace-backed measure would not be approved without major amendments.

With a vote of 50 against 17 with one abstention, the ad hoc panel chaired by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez approved House Bill 4994, after administration congressmen consistently rejected most of the amendments proposed by critics of the measure, led by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat.

“I am for peace but not at the expense of the Republic,” said Lobregat, who voted against the measure which will create a Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao.

The measure is now called the proposed “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.” It will have to be heard first by the House committee on appropriation and on ways and means because of monetary aspects of the bill. It will then be scheduled for plenary sponsorship, likely next week, by the committee on rules chaired by majority leader Neptali Gonzales II.

Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg abstained, wary of the possible inclusion of his province in the proposed region.

READ MORE...
Lobregat, whose district is in danger of being part of the proposed territory, said he never asked for too much from his colleagues except to pass a measure that is “just, fair, acceptable, feasible and consistent with the Constitution and the existing laws.”

“Unfortunately, there are many, many, many provisions that are really against the Constitution, making it difficult for the people in adjoining areas,” he said.

Lobregat decried the committee’s decision to vote down most of the more than 150 amendments he proposed no matter how “principled and logical” these were.

“This is really a very, very sad day,” said Lobregat, a member of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino which is allied with the majority.

Lobregat recalled that Rodriguez, himself, had been trumpeting his commitment to remove provisions that were deemed unconstitutional by the panel, only to backtrack on his vow.

On top of these provisions, Lobregat noted, was the “opt-in” provision which allows neighboring territories to propose their inclusion in the Bangsamoro region “at any time” through a petition of at least 10 percent of the residents and approval by a majority of qualified voters in the city or province in a separate plebiscite.

“The chairman had been saying that this provision will be deleted because it is unconstitutional,” Lobregat said. “And now you put it back?”

Lobregat said that by retaining the opt-in provision, his colleagues “have made it (the proposed BBL) worse.”

The committee-approved version of the proposed BBL remained faithful to the original version backed by Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which has warned that a “diluted” version would not be acceptable to them.

The proposal to create a new autonomous territory is covered by a peace agreement signed by government with the MILF last year.

The approved version retained six of the eight of provisions previously found to be unconstitutional by the panel led by Rodriguez who, himself, had been saying that the measure could not be approved without major amendments.

Aside from the opt-in provision, the panel also retained the provision allowing the proposed territory to create its own a human rights body which will have jurisdiction over all human rights violations within the region.

The other controversial provisions retained by the panel are on the creation of a separate Bangsamoro electoral body as the election body in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous entity; creation of a civil service office with functions similar to that of the Civil Service Commission; establishment of a Bangsamoro Commission on Audit; and empowering the Bangsamoro government with primary responsibility over public order and safety in the covered territory by giving it control over the police.

The panel has, however, agreed to delete from two questionable provisions: the one requiring a coordination protocol between the Armed Forces and the Bangsamoro government prior to every operation in the area, and the provision creating a disciplinary authority over officials in the region similar to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Aurora Cerilles said she was opposing the bill because it is downright unconstitutional while Davao Oriental Rep. Thelma Almario said she voted against the measure because she believes that “peace we’ve longed for in Mindanao will not happen” with the passage of the measure.

Magdalo party list Rep. Gary Alejano said he voted against it because the MILF has yet to surrender their firearms and because of what happened to the 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January in the hands of Moro rebels.

Among the 50 lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure are Reps. Jim Hataman-Salliman of Basilan, Tupay Loong of Sulu, Raymund Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines party-list.

Those who voted against included minority bloc members Reps. Carol Jane Lopez of Youth against Corruption and Poverty party-list group, Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party list; Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers.


MALAYA COMMENTARY

‘Yes to peace, but No to the BBL’! Submitted by NESTOR MATA on May 21, 2015


by NESTOR MATA

NOT only eminent jurists, constitutionalists and legal experts, and pundits and political commentators in print and broadcast media, but also a majority of concerned citizens are against the approval by Congress of President Noynoy Aquino’s constitutionally-flawed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL.

The group of Filipino citizens, led by Rafael M. Alunan III, who served as Secretary of Tourism under former President Cory Aquino, and Secretary of the Interior and Local Government under former President Fidel V. Ramos, called on all members of the Senate and the House of Representatives not to pass the proposed BBL.

In their Manifesto’s preamble the concerned citizens stated that “Today, we find our nation in peril and our democratic way of life under threat, both externally and from within. All too often, the common good and national interests are sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, corruption and self-serving hidden agendas. The government is increasingly alienating itself from the people it has sworn to serve.

“Nowhere is this disconnect from reality more pronounced than on the issue of the Peace Process that the government has undertaken exclusively with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that produced the Comprehensive Agreement on

BangsaMoro (CAB), and the BangsaMoro Basic Law (BBL), a proposed bill that seeks to replace Republic Act No. 6734 that created the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao without justifiable cause, in clear violation of the principles of Public International Law.

“We believe that a significant majority of the population in Mindanao, and around the country, opposes the CAB-BBL.

CONTINUE READING...
Despite widespread opposition from all walks of life, the Executive prefers to ignore the public outcry and continues to press for its passage not later than June 2015. In so doing, the Aquino administration is inexplicably violating the Tripoli Agreement and dismissing the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“We are a group of Filipino citizens from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that oppose the BBL.”

Here are their reasons against the enactment into law of President Aquino’s proposed BBL with all its constitutional infirmities and dire consequences to our country’s sovereignty, internal and external security, and national unity:

1. To begin with, the choice of Malaysia as third party mediator to facilitate peace negotiations was in itself, a ludicrous exercise. Malaysia is a country with vested interests in opposing our historic and legal territorial claim over Sabah. Malaysia likewise has persistently undermined our nation’s stability as a state that funded, organized and trained Muslim insurgents in the south such as the MNLF and MILF.

2. The nomenclature Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is in itself, a thinly veiled attempt at usurping the Constitution. “Basic Law” connotes a constitution; the basic law of the land to which all laws must conform.

3. Sections 2 to 5, Article III of the BBL define the Bangsamoro Territory and suggests a separate territorial enclave within sovereign Philippine territory.

4. Section 1 Article IV of the BBL speaks of self-governance, but immediately after those words, were inserted the clearly unnecessary and ominous words ‘Right to Self-Determination”, showing manifest bad faith on the part of the MILF. The intent cannot be mistaken for anything but a prelude to a subsequent declaration of independence or secession.

5. Section 2 Article IV of the BBL prescribes a parliamentary form of government in clear contravention of both Section 1 Article 2 and Section 1 Article VI of the 1987 Constitution which mandates a Republican and Presidential form of government.

6. Section 2 Article XI of the BBL creates a Bangsamoro Police and Section 15 Article XI of the BBL establishes a Bangsamoro Command. While both new armed entities will nominally be part of the PNP and AFP, their creation nevertheless, constitutes a duplication of sovereign prerogatives and will parallel both armed instrumentalities of the national government, violating both Section 3 Article II and Section 6 Article XVI of the Philippine Constitution which recognizes the AFP as the sole bearer of military arms and the PNP as the sole security apparatus of the state respectively.

7. The BBL’s provisions on the creation of a Bangsamoro Civil Service (Sec. 2 par. 1.8 Art. V BBL); a Police Board-equivalent to the NAPOLCOM (Sec. 5 Art. XI BBL); a Commission on Human Rights (Sec. 7 Art. IX BBL); a Bangsamoro Public Attorney’s Office and Prosecution Service (Sections 18 and 19 Art. X BBL); a Commission on Audit (Sec. 2 Art. XII BBL); and a Bangsamoro Tax Office (Sec.11 Art XII BBL), as well as its creation of a Sharia Judicial and Bar Council (Sec. 10 Art. 10X BBL) can only be viewed as a clear usurpation and duplication of sovereign governmental functions and powers of the Republic.

8. Section 1 Article VIII of the BBL, creating the position of “Wali” or titular head of the Bangsamoro, mirrors the role of a head of state.

9. Sections 1 and 2 Article VI of the BBL impose an “Asymmetric Relationship” and “Parity of Esteem” that will govern relations between the proposed Bangsamoro government and the Central government giving the former equal status and parity with the latter. With all the elements of a state virtually granted and guaranteed by the proposed basic law (people, sovereignty, territory and government), the BBL will create a parallel state and can lead to no other conclusion other than an eventual bid by the MILF for independence.

10. We have reason to believe that the process that was undertaken that led to the signing of the CAB was furtive, not unlike the process that the Arroyo Administration chose to take in trying to obtain public approval for the unlamented MOA-AD. Contrary to this administration’s claims, the peace panel chose to be exclusionary and failed to undertake extensive, open and transparent consultations of all stakeholders within the area of interest. The MOA-AD was brought before the Supreme Court where it was struck down as unconstitutional.

11. The recent massacre of forty-four (44) PNP Special Action Force law enforcers by the MILF-BIFF and other sympathetic armed groups, has thrown the MILF’s sincerity and trustworthiness into question. The MILF is connected to the global jihadist movement, mainly Al Qaeda and Jema’ah Islamiya. Its alleged breakaway group, the BangsaMoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), has reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS. The MILF and BIFF were co-located in Mamasapano,

Maguindanao that provided safe harbor to international terrorists with bounties on their heads – Marwan and Usman. Granting the MILF a homeland is akin to putting a revolver to our heads and playing Russian roulette.

12. BBL proponents say that ARMM was a “failed experiment” citing the regional government’s failure to reverse its feudalistic practices, poverty, economic backwardness, rebellion, terror and revenge killings. Changing the political system is the recommended solution to its cultural problem. ARMM’s creation was not an experiment. Its failure lies not in the political system but in the attitudes, behavior and skills of the people. Breaking the vicious cycle requires persistent and sufficient investments in capacity and capability building especially in the tenets of good governance. This is the real solution to the failure of governance in ARMM. If the driver keeps crashing the car, the solution is to retrain the driver instead of changing the car.

13. Proponents say that the BBL addresses the centuries of social injustice suffered by the Muslims in Mindanao. Social injustice, we maintain, is a national concern that has bred armed rebellions and social discontent around the country.

Feudalistic practices and the revenge culture are causes of social injustice. So is exclusion that the incumbent (Aquino) administration is accused of.

In summary, the Citizens Manifesto declared that the BBL not only betrays the public trust, violates the Constitution, but it also undermines Philippine sovereignty and places public safety and internal security at grave risk. While the incumbent administration maintains that peace in Mindanao will be an outgrowth of the BBL, we believe otherwise. The BBL will be the nation’s undoing. It will inflict more violence and bloodshed; and usher in the country’s eventual disintegration.

Every Filipino seeks an enduring peace, but not one obtained furtively and ignores the red flags that could further fragment society, dismember the country and cause more bloodshed. The Comprehensive Agreement on BangsaMoro and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (CAB-BBL), as signed and originally submitted to Congress should be stoutly opposed and rejected.

We implore you, our people’s representatives, to do what is right for the sake of our people and the nation’s future.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate and the House of Representatives, heed the voice of the majority of Filipinos, Christians and Muslims alike, telling you all – “Yes to peace, but No to the BBL!”

*** Quote of the Day: “Vox populi, vox Dei.” (The voice of the people is the voice of God.)


GMA NEWS NETWORK

House panel approves Bangsamoro Basic Law By XIANNE ARCANGEL,GMA News May 20, 2015 2:46pm


Members of the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law vote on the amendments of the proposed legislation on Tuesday, May 19, the second day of the voting. GMA News

House panel votes on BBL amendments

House panel votes on BBL amendments. Members of the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law vote on the amendments of the proposed legislation on Tuesday, May 19, the second day of the voting. GMA News (Updated 5:40 p.m.)

The House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday voted to approve the measure formalizing the creation of a new political entity that will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Voting 50-17 with one abstention, the panel approved the committee report on the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region after two days of marathon hearings where committee members voted on each of the provisions contained in the bill.

The result of the voting was announced by panel chairman, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the lawmakers who voted for the bill’s passage expressed their reservation about certain provisions, indicating their intent to question or introduce amendments when plenary debates begin.

Following the ad hoc panel’s approval of the bill, the measure will be deliberated on by the joint committee on appropriations and ways and means, which will iron out details on funding its implementation.

It is expected to be introduced to the plenary either Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

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T
he Bangsamoro bill, a top priority measure of the Aquino administration, seeks to recognize the Bangsamoro’s aspiration for self-determination by giving them greater power in governing themselves.

Under the proposed legislation, the autonomous Bangsamoro government will be parliamentary in form, to be headed by a Chief Minister.

The original draft BBL was a product of the comprehensive peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014 after 17 years of on-and-off negotiations.

Committee members, however, agreed to use as basis for their voting this week the so-called “Chairman and Vice Chairpersons’ Working Draft” of the BBL, which was finalized following a meeting between House leaders and President Benigno Aquino III over the weekend.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda thanked the House ad hoc committee for approving the draft BBL.

“It brings us closer to transforming Muslim Mindanao from a permanent potential into a reality where peace and prosperity abide,” Lacierda said in a text message sent to reporters.

Gray area for Palawan

The lone abstention in the voting came from Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg, who was wary about the possible inclusion of his province in the Bangsamoro region in the future due to the restoration of the “opt-in” clause in the bill's Article 3, Section 3.

Despite repeated assurances by presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal that Palawan will not be included in the Bangsamoro region, Abueg said he was taken aback upon seeing the restored “opt-in” clause in the latest working draft of the Bangsamoro bill.

“The requirement now is not just the contiguous areas but also the provinces identified in the Tripoli Agreement. Kasama kami doon, kaya gray area sa amin kung kami talaga ay masasama sa Bangsamoro entity,” he said.

Abueg said he will reserve his vote on the Bangsamoro bill in the plenary pending consultation with his constituents.

The revised provision in the approved committee report states that a plebiscite for inclusion in the Bangsamoro area may be held in any local government unit or geographic area outside the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro, but which are contiguous to any of the component units of the Bangsamoro and within the area of autonomy identified in the 1976 Tripoli agreement signed by the government with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The petition for inclusion can only be held every five years and no petition can be entertained within five years of the BBL’s enactment.

Rodriguez, the panel chair, originally pushed for the deletion of the “opt-in” provision because he agreed with some of his colleagues’ comment that it constitutes “creeping territorial expansion.” Even the Peace Council tasked by Malacañang to review to Bangsamoro bill had recommended its removal.

That clause, however, found its way to the latest version of the working draft on the BBL, following Rodriguez’s consultation with committee vice chairpersons and meeting with Aquino last week.

Not for appeasement

While maintaining he is supportive of peace in Mindanao, Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat said he is against the measure because he thinks some of the provisions are unconstitutional.

The lawmaker recalled that he proposed more than 150 amendments to the BBL—from the preamble to the repealing clause—throughout the two-day voting in hopes of correcting what he perceived to be its constitutional infirmities. Most of his proposals, however, were thumbed down.

“It’s really a very sad day,” he said of the Bangsamoro bill’s passage at the committee level. “I’m for peace but I’m not for appeasement at the expense of the republic.”

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said he is “strongly and unequivocally” against the measure because the panel allowed what he called the “Yellow version” of the bill to be passed.

“We [lost] the chance to peace because Malacañang corrupted it,” he said.

Hope for peace

But for Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin Hataman, the Bangsamoro bill only seeks to give what has long been due to Bangsamoros.

“Nothing in this law is new to us. It doesn’t change our history. We’re entitled by law to the right to self-determination. Nothing [in the bill] is given to us which isn’t ours hundreds of years ago,” said the lawmaker, the wife of ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman.

Maguindanao and Cotabato City Rep. Bai Sandra Sema said the BBL’s passage “puts back hope that the Bangsamoro, too, can live peacefully and have a chance to a better life just like the rest of Filipino people.”

Rodriguez hailed the passage of the BBL at the committee level as a “historic vote” that will go a long way in “fully addressing centuries of inherited disadvantages inflicted on our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

“I am from Mindanao, and I wish to see the day that the children of our Muslim brothers and sisters will have the same opportunities as the children of Christian communities to have good education, health, and employment opportunities; that they will not be judged by their culture and religion but as persons with human dignity,” he said.

Wishful thinking

There had been uncertainty that the Bangsamoro bill will be passed following public outrage over the Mamasapano clash that killed over 60 people, including 44 Special Action Force commandos. The timeline for the bill’s passage was reset from March to June as the House and Senate shelved discussions to investigate the bloody incident.

Since Malacañang submitted the BBL to Congress last September, the ad hoc committee has held 51 hearings, composed of 24 public hearings, 19 regular meetings and eight executive sessions.

While House and Senate leaders earlier agreed to approve the bill by the end of the second regular session, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said it is “wishful thinking” to pass it before the sine die adjournment on June 11.

“Mahirap na sabihin mo agad [na ma-approve] on or before June 11 because we still have to approve it on second reading. Wishful thinking [but] we will try…. It becomes a different ball game [once it’s in the plenary] surely because there are serious oppositors,” he said Tuesday.

Should the bill be introduced to the plenary on May 27, the House will only have seven session days to hold debates and approve it. —with Andreo Calonzo/KBK, GMA News


GMA NEWS NETWORK COMMENTARY

Heed the clamor of the Bangsamoro for justice and lasting peace By SENEN BACANI May 18, 2015 3:46pm


By SENEN BACANI

The coming weeks are going to be crucial for the entire country, as the House of Representatives and the Senate decide on the fate of one of the most important legislation ever to pass through the legislative mill -- the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BBL is on top of the legislative agenda submitted by President Aquino to the two chambers of Congress last year during his State of the Nation Address. It is the proposed legal iteration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed after 17 years of contentious negotiations by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

It seeks to end decades of conflict in Mindanao, thus bringing peace, security, and development to Mindanao, and the entire country.

Basically, the BBL proposes to establish the Bangsamoro, a new political entity with greater political and fiscal autonomy than the existing Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that it would replace once created.

It would end not only the MILF-led conflict. It will start a new era of Moro autonomy, a concept that was first introduced in the 1987 Constitution to settle the Moro quest for self-governance and self-determination.

The Bangsamoro is our solution to finding just and lasting peace for Mindanao and the entire country. It provides greater political autonomy to the region that the Moros and the other peoples of the region have fought and longed for, and a constitutional remedy to the centuries of historical injustice suffered by the Moros.

This is a partial fulfillment of the commitment made by President Aquino at the start of his administration, when he pledged to end all armed conflict in the country through political settlement.

Conflict is very harsh and inflicts a very deep wound in the psyche of all of us Filipinos.

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We seek to end this cycle of conflict and violence in Mindanao with the establishment of the Bangsamoro.

We seek to make our congressmen and senators understand this as we await their affirmative vote on the BBL to show to all that they, indeed, share our common dream of just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

We dream of a Mindanao that is flourishing and its people happily and quietly pursuing their dreams without fear of violence. We dream of a Philippines that is united, with equality and fairness among all, regardless of sex, religion, class or education.

Mindanao had always been a land of promise. The long decades of violence and conflict in Mindanao had stalled this dream for too long. It is time we make it real.

We ask our Congress to vote affirmatively on the BBL. We ask them to cast their vote in favor of our peoples’ dreams for peace, security and development for Mindanao.

Former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani is a member of the government peace panel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


PHILSTAR

Palace confident of BBL constitutionality as Miriam sees SC litigation By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated May 21, 2015 - 4:46pm


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said the BBL should not be approved in its present form and that legislation will spark Supreme Court litigation. Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is confident that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will stand the legal questions against it that Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is expecting to see before the Supreme Court.

In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. insisted that the controversial measure is constitutional.

"Simula sa pagbubuo nitong BBL ay isinaalang-alang na ang bawat probisyon nito ay dapat tumalima sa Saligang Batas," Coloma said.

While he recognized that there are lawmakers like Santiago who oppose the BBL, Coloma said it is the entire Congress which will pass the proposed law.

"Mayroong mga ilang mambabatas na nagpapahayag ng kanilang opinyon. Ganunpaman, ang magpapasya dito ay ang buong Kamara at buong Senado, hindi lang naman iilan," he said.

Coloma said the critics of the BBL are free to question its legality before the Supreme Court.

"Ayon sa proseso ng ating batas, kung mayroong nais kumwestyon sa legalidad pagkatapos maipasa ang isang batas, may pagkakataon silang ihain ang kanilang petisyon sa Korte Suprema," he said.

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Earlier on Thursday, Santiago's committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes released its draft report on the BBL.

Santiago again questioned the constitutionality of the BBL, which was amended and approved by a House of Representatives ad hoc committee on Wednesday.

"The committee on constitutional amendments appreciates the brilliant efforts of the hardworking men and women who put the BBL together. However, in its present state, the BBL raises many insidious doubts on constitutionality," Santiago said.

She said the BBL should not be approved in its present form and that legislation will spark Supreme Court litigation.

"It has to be promulgated by nothing less than an amendment to the Constitution," the senator said

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Palace counters Miriam: Framers of Constitution OK with BBL By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated March 5, 2015 - 4:13pm

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, the Senate's resident Constitutional expert, said earlier today that the BBL "infringes our sovereignty" and has an "abundance of unconstitutional features."

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Thursday countered Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago who is insisting that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is unconstitutional.

In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. reiterated that the 14 members of the Constitutional Commission who created the 1987 Constitution are backing the BBL.

"Mainam na gawing batayan ‘yung pananaw ng members ng Constitutional Commission dahil sila mismo ang bumuo ng Konstitusyon," Coloma said.

He said the 14 framers of the Constitution have stated that the BBL adheres to the supreme law of the land in two aspects, namely human development and social justice.

“The core principle of the 1987 Constitution in mandating a special status for the autonomous regions is the human development of the people of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. Hence, the public conversation should not be about semantics but about people—their needs, their aspirations, their choices— and about empowering them with the environment and institutional framework for social justice. Social justice that calls for genuine social change is the central theme of the 1987 Constitution," Coloma quoted the statement of the Constitution's framers.

Coloma said the Constitution's framers have emphasized that "An interpretation of any relevant provision of the Constitution that results in war and abject poverty would be contrary to its intention."

The Constitution's framers, Coloma continued, also concluded that the Bangsamoro can be a model for Filipinos in building a "more just and peaceful nation."

The BBL was a result of the comprehensive peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last year. It will specify the power and wealth-sharing arrangements between the government and the Bangsamoro entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

But the fate of the BBL is now uncertain after 44 police commandos were killed in the hands of the MILF and its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, during the January 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The controversial measure has gained more critics following the Mamasapano tragedy. Santiago, the Senate's resident Constitutional expert, said earlier today that the BBL "infringes our sovereignty" and has an "abundance of unconstitutional features."


ABS-CBN

READ: BBL draft approved by House ad hoc committee ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 05/20/2015 10:24 PM

With 50 votes in favor, 17 against and one abstention, the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law finally approved the controversial measure and turned it over to the plenary for consideration. The committee likewise renamed the bill, the Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. - ANC, The World Tonight, May 20, 2015

Here is a copy of the substitute bill that was approved. (89 PAGES .pdf FILE AT THIS LINK:)

READ- BBL draft approved by House ad hoc committee

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ABS-CBN VIDEO

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law has officially adopted for endorsement to the plenary a substitute bill for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

 

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