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

IN THE NAME OF PEACE: PRIVILEGED SPEECH OF SENATOR BONGBONG MARCOS ON THE BBL-SENATE BILL NO 2408


JUNE 3 ---AT THE SENATE, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2015 ---
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on Local Government, today said he could not support the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law as its flaws would only lead to more bloodshed, instead of achieving its goal of bringing lasting peace, in Mindanao. “Mr. President, I repeat: I am for peace. I share our people’s thirst for peace. Pero napakarami pong mga masamang probisyon na napapaloob sa BBL at kung tatanggalin ko pong isa-isa, baka maski kahit anong retoke ang gawin, hindi makayang maibalik sa dating anyo ang BBL,” Marcos said in a privilege speech. CONTINUE READING.....FULL TRANSCRIPT FROM THE Institute for Autonomy and Government, University of Notre Dame, Cotabato City

ALSO: Pro BBL group slammed Marcos for ‘megalomania’ in overhauling BBL
[Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator MohagherIqbal told GMA News Online in a text message, "Please tell him to adopt the original BBL, para wala nang mapagod." ]


JUNE 11 ---FACEBOOK PHOTO Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ declaration to replace the Bangsamoro Basic Law with his own version smacked of megalomania reminiscent of his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, a coalition of BBL supporters said on Thursday. “The audacity by which Senator Marcos has declared that he will file his own bill on the Bangsamoro clearly manifests the depths of megalomania he is capable of and the utter disregard he has for all government institutions and for the peace process,” the Bangsamoro para sa Bayan, para sa Lahat said in a statement. Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government, earlier said he had prepared a substitute bill based on what he learned from the committee hearings. In a privilege speech last week, he said he could not support the BBL in its present form as it would only “lead us to perdition.” Shiek bin Laden, member of the BBL coalition and convener of Anti-Bugok (Anti-Bungangero at Utak Pulburang Pulitiko), said on Thursday’s press briefing in Quezon City, “We shouldn’t be careless in carrying out a new plan because this BBL is a product of 17 years of negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”  Bongbong Marcos should instead open up on the Jabidah massacre, “a turning point in what we call the Bangsamoro history which widened the rift between Filipino Christians and Muslims,” Max de Mesa of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates said. More than 20 Muslim youths recruited to infiltrate Sabah were summarily executed on Corregidor Island in 1968 during former President Marcos’ term, according to a lone survivor. READ MORE...

ALSO On BBL: MILF impatient, House desperate, Senate panel firm 


JUNE 9 ---MARCOS
It is now not only President Aquino and his allies in the Senate who are breathing down the neck of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, but also the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that said time is running out for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and is thus demanding that the Marcos panel “fast-track” its report on the BBL to allow the passage of the law.
The MILF, in a statement over its website, stressed that all those being consulted by Marcos during the Senate hearings were “virtually” already reached by the MILF when it crafted the BBL. The MILF dismissed the perception that the BBL is being rushed by the MILF and the Aquino government, citing the proposed law has been submitted to Congress nine months ago. “It is on this basis that we appeal to you, Mr. Senator, to fast-track your process and come out with your committee report. You may have all the best intentions, because you want a good BBL, but time is running out,” the MILF stated. Marcos, however, said an option he is considering in crafting a substitute bill to the Palace draft of the BBL is to simply amend the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).Earlier, Marcos said in a privilege speech that he could not support the draft BBL as its flaws could only lead the country to perdition. Marcos said he would prepare a substitute bill that addresses the concern not only of the MILF but also those of the other major stakeholders in the areas to be covered by the proposed Bangsamoro region. “I think there are systemic weaknesses in the ARMM system. So what do we do? We fix it. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino says, 'President has power to expand Bangsamoro territory, all it takes is an Executive Order'


JUNE 11 ---Benigno Aquino III 
The President has the power to expand the proposed Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao even without the opt-in close provided for in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law now pending in Congress. President Benigno Aquino III said all it takes is an executive order to transfer and reorganize the country’s provinces and regions. “Iyong opt-in, in particular, para tayong may mechanisms in place na at some point in time, yung isang probinsya na gustong sumama sa isang particularly region, currently, all it takes is an executive order,” Aquino told reporters after inspecting infrastructure projects here. “It's not a difficult process.... It's not an impossibility,” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: MILF set to disarm 145 fighters, give up high-powered weapons


JUNE 11 ---LEST WE FORGET: DAILY MAIL's HEADLINE FROM REUTERS LAST JANUARY 29, 2015 'THE FALLEN 44" -MANILA: Work to set up an autonomous Muslim region in the Philippines to end a 45-year insurgency has been suspended and may be abandoned altogether because of a clash in which more than 50 people were killed and shattered a 3-year ceasefire. The Muslim insurgency has killed 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth in the poor but resource-rich south. TODAY, June 12, 2015, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will begin the first phase of decommissioning its fighters on June 16, the chief negotiators of both the Philippine government and the rebel group said on Thursday. In a joint press conference, government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (photo) confirmed that decommissioning, or rendering MILF fighting units “beyond use” and returning their fighters to civilian life, will begin on June 16. The “gradual decommissioning” is contained in the Annex on Normalization signed by the MILF and the government in January 2014. “Phase 1 of the process will begin with the ceremonial turnover of 55 high-powered firearms and 20 crew-served weapons, and decommissioning of 145 members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces,” she said. The weapons will be turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body, while the decommissioned combatants will be registered, their identities verified after which they will be provided immediate cash assistance amounting to P25,000 and PhilHealth insurance cards. President Benigno S, Aquino 3rd is expected to witness the symbolic turnover of firearms in Maguindanao.
READ MORE...

ALSO: MILF open to enhanced BBL; Iqbal, however, disagrees with Bongbong’s plan to amend ARMM Law instead
[But Marcos said all these worries and criticisms the MILF and Malacañang have expressed are premature because there is no substitute bill to speak of as of this time. Marcos said “they should be patient and wait for the version that we will finally craft".]


JUNE 12 ---BBL OR NOTHING — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Peace Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal objects to a mere amendment to Republic Act No. 9054, the Organic Law of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), instead of passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law during the media forum at the Tycoon Malate Manila yesterday as Lolly Rivera-Acosta (left) and moderator Joel Palacios look on. (Russell Palma)
Mohagher Iqbal (photo), chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, yesterday said the secessionist group is open to moves of Congress to enhance or improve the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). However, he said he disagrees with the plan of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to just amend Republic Act No. 9054, the Organic Law of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), instead of pushing the proposed BBL. “The position of the MILF is very clear. Knowing fully well the mandate of Congress… its plenary powers, we welcome enhancement and improvement. We leave to Congress how to do that,” said Iqbal. Iqbal said the MILF leadership will decide whether to accept or reject the BBL after its enactment, but right now the MILF is leaving no stone unturned for its passage. “We have extensive engagements with legislators, so we cannot blame ourselves later on.” “Let Senator Bongbong Marcos do what makes him happy,” Iqbal stressed during the Tycoon News Forum in Malate, Manila, yesterday.

ALSO: Officials see rise of Polloc Port as Bangsamoro shipping hub


JUNE 12 ---A foreign vessel carrying corn imported from Indonesia by a local cornstarch manufacturer is berthed at the Polloc Port in Maguindanao. John Unson
PARANG, Maguindanao - Officials are rushing to refurbish the Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao in anticipation of expansion in shipping activities after the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new Bangsamoro political entity. The Polloc Port southwest of Maguindanao is the ARMM’s largest seaport, a major export-import transshipment point for consumer goods, farm products and petroleum supply from abroad. Records obtained from the office of port manager Mimbalawag Mangutara Jr. indicated that despite the security problems that rocked isolated areas in Central Mindanao in 2013 and 2014, the facility generated P24.4 million worth of revenues during the period. The port earned P11 million in 2014, about 18 percent higher than its P9.4 million income in 2013. Officials have just facilitated the construction of the port’s perimeter fence encircling a 119-hectare territory and are now rehabilitating its transit shed, power facility and water system. The port’s mooring bollards and rubber fenders along its berthing sites had been replaced with new ones too. Mangutara said all of their port rehabilitation activities are parallel with the socio-economic thrusts of incumbent ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman. Hataman is a staunch supporter of President Benigno Aquino III’s diplomatic dealings with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

IN THE NAME OF PEACE: PRIVILEGED SPEECH OF SENATOR FERDINAND R. MARCOS JR.

MANILA, JUNE 15, 2015 (Institute for Autonomy and Government)  Monday, June 3, 2015 - Privilege speech of Sen. Bongbong Marcos on the Bangsamoro Basic Law Published on Wednesday, 03 June 2015 09:49

In the name of peace

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon.

I rise today to speak on a matter of profound importance to the national interest.

I stand before you in the name of peace. Like our Muslim and Christian brothers, our Lumads and our indigenous people, I too, long for peace — an equitable, enduring peace. Peace with justice. Peace with honor. Peace for all.

I have walked the proverbial extra mile in search of peace; peace in Mindanao; peace in the land.

When Senate Bill No. 2408 was filed and subsequently referred to my Committee in September last year, we endeavored to scrutinize the proposal by conducting several hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We sought the opinions, sentiments, concerns and propositions of the different sectors of society.

Discussions of the measure at the grassroots level triggered passionate debates and scholarly discourses between national and local officials, members of the academe, concerned sectors and other stakeholders. We also sought the opinions of legal experts who shared their scholarly analyses on the constitutionality of several provisions of the bill.

In all, our committees have conducted fourteen (14) public hearings: nine (9) in the Senate; and five (5) in the affected areas of Cotabato City (October 8), Marawi City (October 23), Tawi-tawi (November 11), Sulu (May 13), and Zamboanga City (May 14).


Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said he is working overtime to finish consultation with major stakeholders on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, not to delay its passage but to address its flaws and enable it to withstand any legal challenges. FROM BONGBONG MARCOS WEBSITE

Eight months have passed since the time the bill was filed in September last year. This morning, we just conducted the 14th hearing on the BBL.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law is supposed to be an instrument of peace. I share in its objective. But for peace to be achieved, the BBL must be inclusive. All the stakeholders must be consulted, their views heard, their concerns addressed. More importantly, it must conform to the letters and spirit of the law of the land. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Unfortunately, the BBL in its present form and substance will not bring us any closer to peace.

Instead, it will lead us to perdition. Armed conflict will ensue. Blood will be shed. And when blood is shed, it will not distinguish between right and wrong; between young and old, neither between men and women, nor soldiers or rebels, combatants and civilians, rich, poor, Muslims, Christians. Nobody wins. Everybody loses.

After a series of meetings with the stakeholders, it became obvious to me that no substantive consultations had been held with them prior to or during negotiations.

The Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) totally ignored the major stakeholders. The Sultanate of Sulu, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Lumads, the Indigenous people, the Christians, the Local Government Units and businesses were abandoned, removed from the negotiating process.

And so, Mr. President, I will not invite your boredom by repeating all those contentious findings which have found their way to the media.

I would like, instead, to express some of my reservations with regard to the proposed BBL so as to give the Filipino people an idea of how complicated or maybe even convoluted it is and why this Committee has deep reservations on the wisdom of the BBL.

ISSUE ON CONSTITUTIONALITY

Soon after the commencement of the committee hearings, speculations on the constitutionality of the BBL began to surface. These speculations ripened into substantial findings which first had to be addressed before a comprehensive understanding of the BBL was to be had.

Thus, we were constrained to seek the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revisions of Codes, chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

As stated in the closely argued and erudite Committee Report of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who we all acknowledge is a great legal luminary of the Senate, which was transmitted to the Committee on Local Government on 26 May 2015, the following findings were made:

It is the Committee’s understanding that the establishment of the proposed BBL ought to be within the constitutional framework in order to establish an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.

That is to say, the proposed BBL should and could only create a territorial and political subdivision of the Republic of the Philippines, which is our sovereign state. However autonomous it may be, its autonomy does not, and cannot, make it higher than, or co-equal with, the whole.

Section 15, Article X of the 1987 Constitution states:

“There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao x x x within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The BBL, however, aspires to create a part-sovereign state that enjoys sovereignty within the Bangsamoro territory and within the territory of the State. It seeks to create what our Supreme Court has called an imperium et imperio, which is a “state within a state”. This notion has been squarely rejected by our Supreme Court time and again.

Stated otherwise, the BBL and what it aspires to create is not within the framework of the Constitution because the powers enjoyed by the Bangsamoro government alone are violative of several provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

First, it provides for three (3) categories of powers:

(i) a limited number reserved to central or national government;

(ii) an extensive number of exclusive powers that may only be enjoyed by the Bangsamoro Government; and...

(iii) concurrent powers that may be shared by both central government and Bangsamoro government within the Bangsomoro territory.

Second, the granting of these exclusive powers to the Bangsamoro government implies that the central government recognizes another, and more supreme, authority within the State — an anomaly which is not authorized by the Constitution.

Several other provisions run counter to our Constitution:

1. BBL provides for a parliamentary form of government within a presidential form of government. There is no constitutional basis for this effort to change the form of government.

The proposed BBL provides for a parliamentary form of government for the Bangsamoro. It vests the powers of government in a Parliament headed by a Chief Minister, who shall concurrently head the executive department called the “Cabinet”.

The members of the Parliament are to be elected by the constituents of the Bangsamoro, but it is the members of the Parliament themselves who shall elect the Chief Minister, who shall, in turn, appoint his Deputy Minister and a majority of the members of the Cabinet.

2. BBL seeks to establish limitations to the powers of Congress. Congress will be entitled to reserved powers, but the Bangsamoro would be excluded from the laws passed by Congress with respect to autonomous regions. The Bangsamoro Parliament would become not subordinate, but equal to, our Congress.

The BBL contains the categories of powers contractually stipulated upon between the MILF and the OPAPP.

“The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” Therefore, there is no doubt that the Philippine government has all the powers of sovereignty, except only those given to autonomous regions in the Constitution.

In contrast, under the BBL, the Bangsamoro government may enact pieces of legislation on the exploration, development and utilization of mines and minerals in its territory, draft policies on mining and other extractive industries and recommend to the President applications for financial and technical assistance agreements.

These are measures that fall exclusively within the power of Congress to legislate under the Constitution.

By giving the Bangsamoro government the power to legislate on these subjects, the BBL equates the Bangsamoro government with Congress.

3. Exclusive powers given to the Bangsamoro will inevitably reduce or diminish the comprehensive sovereign authority of the Republic over the so-called Bangsamoro territory and the population thereof. What is given to the Bangsamoro Government is necessarily torn away from the Government of the Republic.

Section 3, Article V of the BBL enumerates no less than fifty-eight (58) powers that are exclusively given to the Bangsamoro government.

I must agree with the observation of Dean Merlin Magallona of UP Law that since the exclusivity of these powers necessarily implies that these are to be exercised to the exclusion of the national government (or the central government as it referred to in the BBL), the only governing authority will be the Bangsamoro government.

If that is the case, how then will the Bangsamoro government be able to implement and enforce some of those exclusive powers? To cite some examples:

The creation of sources of revenue, which necessarily include the power to tax all qualified persons within the territory.

------Would a revenue-sharing scheme apply to the Bangsamoro government as in all other local government units under our Local Government Code?

------Or would this central government continue to give internal revenue allotments without receiving a just share of the revenues received from within the Bangsamoro territory?

Labor, employment and occupation.

-----During our previous hearings, various stakeholders expressed concerns on how the Bangsamoro legislation could be reconciled with a person’s right to security of tenure or even their constitutional right against non impairment of contracts?

Bangsamoro police.

-----In the exercise of its right to establish or create institutions, policies and laws for the general welfare of the people within the Bangsamoro territory, the Bangsamoro government can create its own police force.

-----In the exercise of this right, there can be no recognition of the central government’s authority over said police force, unlike the central government’s PNP which is under the supervision and control of the DILG and the President.

-----What will prevent the Bangsamoro police from turning into turning someone’s private army?

Indeed, these exclusive powers go beyond anything ever granted by the Constitution or any other piece of legislation to any local government unit or autonomous region.

4. BBL refers to the autonomous region as a “territory” and as the “ancestral homeland”.

BBL has no power to create the “Bangsamoro territory” which proceeds from the view that although Bangsamoro is under Philippine jurisdiction, it can be molded into a separate territory of the Philippines.

Article 1, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides the following: “[T]he national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction…” The phrase “other territories” refers to the other territories over which the Philippines has claim, for instance, Sabah.

It must be pointed out that the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao under the Constitution is part of the Philippines’ territory. To call the region, including the present ARMM, “Bangsamoro Territory” is to imply that it is a separate part of the Philippines, which is not the case.

The reality is that the Republic of the Philippines recognizes that certain areas are occupied by ethnic groups, for which reason the State, under the Constitution, allows the creation of autonomous regions.

In a 2008 case, the Supreme Court held that the concept of association is not recognized under the present Constitution. The Court opined:

“x x x The Constitution, however, does not contemplate any state in this jurisdiction other than the Philippine State, much less does it provide for a transitory status that aims to prepare any part of Philippine territory for independence.”

Furthermore, and because of the way our national territory is defined, and as an element of its national sovereignty, the 1987 Constitution provides that “[a]ll lands of public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests, or timber, wildlife, flora and other natural resources are owned by the State.”

Accordingly, “[t]he exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State.”

Despite this clear mandate under the Constitution, inland waters, Bangsamoro waters, ancestral domain and natural resources, protected areas, fishery, marine and aquatic resources, are all within the extensive exclusive power of the Bangsamoro government.

This extraordinary power over natural resources found within the Bangsamoro territory and granted to the Bangsamoro government runs counter to the very definition of the national territory and the State’s ownership and control over all natural resources found within the Philippine territory.

OTHER SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES & QUESTIONS OF POLICY

At hindi natatapos ang debate ukol sa BBL sa mga constitutional questions na ito. (And there will be no end debating constitutional issues of this BBL)

Once the issue of modality of making the BBL legally enforceable is settled, deliberations shall ultimately center on the specific provisions of the BBL. More importantly, discussion shall ascend to a debate on the higher questions of national policy.

Aside from those earlier mentioned, other controversial points and serious concerns have been raised in the course of our hearings, such as —

The rather “flexible” Bangsamoro territory, owing to the vague and loose “opt-in” and “inclusion” mechanisms;

The possible conflicting rights and claims over “exclusive” and “internal” bodies of waters, like the Sulu Sea and Lake Lanao;

Co-equal rights of indigenous peoples, as well as of the Royal houses and Sultanates living within the Bangsamoro territory;

The business and economic implications not just on the Bangsamoro territory, but on adjacent LGUs and on the wider Mindanao community;

Separate taxing authority, which can be susceptible to double taxation;

Operational control over the Bangsamoro police;

Impact on our other LGUs in light of our evolving policy on devolution of powers to local governments;

Energy implications not only in the Bangsamoro territory, but in the whole of Mindanao, which is already beleaguered by power shortage;

Separate Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission;

Implications on previous relevant peace agreements and documents that are binding upon our Government; and many more.

And in our attempt to create and install the Bangsamoro government, we are of necessity faced with the proposal to repeal Congress’ previous enactments: Republic Act Nos. 9054 and 6734, or our previous laws creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

What is the wisdom behind “repealing” these important laws under the BBL, as opposed to just “improving” on them?

Are we to just accept the claim that the ARMM was but a “failed experiment”, as though Congress’ previous efforts had all been for naught.

As an optimist and a believer in our capacity as a nation, it could be said that the ARMM is an experiment that is on the difficult but promising path of discovering the perfect conclusion and the solution to the problem.

And in the event that we do decide to abolish the ARMM, how do we protect the interests and welfare of its 36,000 civil servants who will be without work after the ARMM is rendered functus officio?

We cannot keep on conducting isolated experiments on the development of our people all the time.

Rather, we should improve on our previous efforts by applying the wisdom gained from our experiences and shortcomings.

All these issues must be carefully studied and duly presented to our people, not only reasonably prior to enacting the BBL, but more importantly, prior to subjecting our people to the routine and perfunctory process of a plebiscite.

As responsible and conscientious legislators, we are bound by constitutional and moral duty to carefully deliberate on the wisdom of the provisions of the BBL—all one hundred nineteen (119) of them—with a view to laying down a clear and effective legislative policy for our autonomous regions, in accordance with our Constitution.

Our success in this particular Herculean task could lay the basis for the development of our local government system, as well as a blueprint for our other autonomous region under the Constitution: the Cordilleras.

WHY RUSH IT?

Given the complexities on the constitutionality of the BBL—not to mention the other debatable parts of the proposed law, I am at a loss as to why we are being pressured to sign off on this important piece of legislation.

Binigyan di-umano kami ng deadline ng Palasyo. Kailangan daw naming maipasa ang BBL sa aking Komite bago mag-June 11. (We at the Senate, were allegedly given a deadline by Malacañang requiring us to pass this BBL under my Committee before June 11)

In light of the grant of extensive powers being given to the Bangsamoro government as well as the plethora of alarming issues attendant to the proposed BBL, how can our electorates possibly come to terms with this complex piece of legislation which will obviously have serious implications on our lives, our economy and on the future of our country, if arbitrary deadlines are continuously being imposed?


According to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Aquino has vowed to certify the Bangsamoro bill as urgent after the House ad hoc committee. The chairman of the House panel deliberating on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has assured the measure will be passed by both chambers of Congress before President Benigno Aquino III gives his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27 SONA GMANEWS APRIL 2015

Lord Chesterfield once said, “If someone is in a hurry, it only shows that the thing being rushed is too big for him.”

Hindi po tayo magpadadala sa emosyon at sa pulitika. Hindi ako makapapayag na ma-railroad ang BBL sa aking Komite.(We will not be carried away by emotions and by politics. I will not allow myself to have this BBL be railroaded, in this Committee)  It is complex enough as it is. Why rush it?

I will not be rushed. I will see to it that any peace agreement we fashion with the MILF will be inclusive.

It should protect the integrity of our country. I will make sure that Mindanao or any part of our Republic will not secede from us.

I will stand my ground so that our country is not dismembered. I will do whatever it takes to help achieve an enduring and equitable peace in Mindanao.

Hindi ako tumatakbo sa responsibilidad o sa anumang problema. Hinaharap ko ang hamon ng panahon. (I do not run away from responsibility or from any kind of problem. I face the challenges of times)

Bilang isang halal ng bayan, mayroon akong pananagutan sa taong bayan.(As an elected official of the government I value my obligations to my people who elected me)

I cannot and will not fail the people who are looking at us for deliverance. I will do my duty as a Senator. I will do the right thing.

CONCLUSION

Mr. President, I repeat: I am for peace. I share our people’s thirst for peace. Pero napakarami pong mga kumplikado at kontrobersyal na probisyon na napapaloob sa BBL at kung tatanggalin pong isa-isa, baka maski kahit ano pang retoke ang gawin, hindi na makakaya pang maibalik sa orihinal na anyo ang BBL. (But there are so many complicated and controversial provisions in this BBL that if we will remove them one-by-one, any amount of retouching will not give meaning to the original form)

Kinausap ko ang lahat ng stakeholders. Iisa ang kanilang hatol: hindi ito magbibigay ng kapayapaan. (I have spoken, face-to-face, with the stakeholders, they all have one judgment in common: this BBL draft will not give peace to our country)

Mr. President, I CANNOT SUPPORT THE BBL IN ITS PRESENT FORM. May inihahanda akong kapalit nito na makabubuti sa lahat. (We will attempt to create a substitute that will be for the good of all)

Manalangin tayo para sa linaw ng kaisipan at tapang ng kalooban. (Let us pray for a clean and clear mind and courage of spirit)

Huwag tayong matakot gawin ang tama para sa Kapayapaan at pagkakaisa ng bayan. (Let us not be afraid to do what is right for Peace and unity of our people as a whole)

THE "FALLEN 44"

I cannot end without paying tribute to our “Fallen 44” and those before them, who had offered their lives at the altar of service, of duty. I salute you for your bravery and patriotism. Your heroism will not be forgotten. You will remain in the collective memory of a grateful people. Your sacrifices will continue to inspire us.

I shall not stop until you and your loved ones are given the justice that you all richly deserve. I will continue the search for peace even if it means traveling that dark, treacherous road alone. By doing that, I, in my own small way, would have helped demonstrate that your supreme sacrifice did not go to waste and that you have not died in vain.

May the good Lord help us all and may He save us from the evil that men bring upon themselves.

Maraming salamat po.

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INQUIRER

Bongbong Marcos slammed for ‘megalomania’ in overhauling BBL By: Erika Sauler @erikasauler Philippine Daily Inquirer 06:27 PM June 11th, 2015


FROM GMA NEWS JUNE 10, 2015---
By ROSE-AN JESSICA DIOQUINO,GMA News June 10, 2015 12:20pm  Iqbal to Bongbong, adopt original BBL:  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday maintained that Congress should pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its original form following statements from Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. that he is crafting an alternative version. In response to Marcos' invitation to the MILF to help him craft a substitute BBL, Iqbal told GMA News Online in a text message, "Please tell him to adopt the original BBL, para wala nang mapagod." Marcos made the call on Tuesday, saying the BBL — the product of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF — is full of flaws as a result of failure to consult other stakeholders. The MILF has repeatedly said they hope that Congress will not water down the proposed law.

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ declaration to replace the Bangsamoro Basic Law with his own version smacked of megalomania reminiscent of his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, a coalition of BBL supporters said on Thursday.

“The audacity by which Senator Marcos has declared that he will file his own bill on the Bangsamoro clearly manifests the depths of megalomania he is capable of and the utter disregard he has for all government institutions and for the peace process,” the Bangsamoro para sa Bayan, para sa Lahat said in a statement.

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government, earlier said he had prepared a substitute bill based on what he learned from the committee hearings. In a privilege speech last week, he said he could not support the BBL in its present form as it would only “lead us to perdition.”

Shiek bin Laden, member of the BBL coalition and convener of Anti-Bugok (Anti-Bungangero at Utak Pulburang Pulitiko), said on Thursday’s press briefing in Quezon City, “We shouldn’t be careless in carrying out a new plan because this BBL is a product of 17 years of negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”

Bongbong Marcos should instead open up on the Jabidah massacre, “a turning point in what we call the Bangsamoro history which widened the rift between Filipino Christians and Muslims,” Max de Mesa of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates said.

More than 20 Muslim youths recruited to infiltrate Sabah were summarily executed on Corregidor Island in 1968 during former President Marcos’ term, according to a lone survivor.

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The massacre has sparked the Moro separatist movement with Nur Misuari establishing the Moro National Liberation Front. But even after the downfall of Marcos in 1986 and after MNLF signed a Final Peace Agreement with the Ramos government in 1996, no effort was done to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to court and the bar of justice. But the story of the massacre inflames Mindanao Muslims.

“Saying he will make his own version is a very big insult to the victims of his father,” Mary Ann Arnado of Mindanao Peoples Caucus said.

“(Bongbong) said there was no rush to pass the BBL. How could he say that when more than 100,000 people have died from the conflict in Mindanao?”

“Like his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Bongbong is setting himself up as the protector of the Filipino people, defender of peace, and champion of the Constitution while cleverly disguising his Machiavelian manipulation of the situation to forward his own self-serving political interest,” the BBL coalition said.

The coalition composed of some 30 groups was formed to mobilize support for a BBL that is reflective of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the framework peace agreement signed on March 27 last year.

The passage of the BBL was derailed by the January 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, between Moro groups and the Special Action Force, which left 44 policemen, 17 MILF members and five civilians dead.


TRIBUNE

On BBL: MILF impatient, House desperate, Senate panel firm Written by Mario J. Mallari and Angie M. Rosales Tuesday, 09 June 2015 00:00


MARCOS

It is now not only President Aquino and his allies in the Senate who are breathing down the neck of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, but also the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that said time is running out for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and is thus demanding that the Marcos panel “fast-track” its report on the BBL to allow the passage of the law.

The MILF, in a statement over its website, stressed that all those being consulted by Marcos during the Senate hearings were “virtually” already reached by the MILF when it crafted the BBL.

The MILF dismissed the perception that the BBL is being rushed by the MILF and the Aquino government, citing the proposed law has been submitted to Congress nine months ago.

“It is on this basis that we appeal to you, Mr. Senator, to fast-track your process and come out with your committee report. You may have all the best intentions, because you want a good BBL, but time is running out,” the MILF stated.

Marcos, however, said an option he is considering in crafting a substitute bill to the Palace draft of the BBL is to simply amend the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Earlier, Marcos said in a privilege speech that he could not support the draft BBL as its flaws could only lead the country to perdition. Marcos said he would prepare a substitute bill that addresses the concern not only of the MILF but also those of the other major stakeholders in the areas to be covered by the proposed Bangsamoro region.

“I think there are systemic weaknesses in the ARMM system. So what do we do? We fix it.

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There’s no need to throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say. We look at the system, see where the failings are, the weaknesses are, and fix those,” Marcos said.

“We have amended already the organic law for ARMM once. That was a step in the right direction. So let’s make more steps in the right direction,” he added.

Marcos said amending the ARMM law would address one of the constitutional problems of creating a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao that some legal experts said is not allowed.

“And so a solution around that will be to say this is merely an amendment of the existing law. That dispenses with that argument questioning the constitutionality of the law,” Marcos said.

Marcos said that after the last BBL hearing of his panel on June 9, he would buckle down and start drafting the substitute bill when Congress adjourns sine die on June 11.

Upon completion, Marcos said he would provide all the committee members a copy so they can study his proposals even before the resumption of session.

“The BBL has been in Congress for nine months already and, therefore, it is not true to say that the BBL is being rushed. The flipside is truer: The passage of the BBL is getting snagged. This is the popular impression thus far created,” the MILF complained.

At the same time, the MILF reiterated that war is not an option in case BBL is not passed.

“On the contrary, the MILF consistently maintains that no matter what happens to the BBL the pursuit of peace would remain the menu in settling the armed conflict in Mindanao,” the MILF said.
“War is not an option to the MILF,” it added.

The MILF said that its abhorrence of war is the reason why it agreed to negotiate peace with the government since 1997.

“Because more than anybody else, we — and those soldiers who served in the battlefields in Mindanao — know exactly what war really is,” the MILF said.

“People who are outside of the war zone can only imagine the horrors and devastations of war, but can never feel them. We did and do,” it added.

Senate President Franklin Drilon added the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may have to be asked to move the deadline of the filing of certificates of candidacies (CoCs) in Oct. to a later date to accommodate those that will be running for the Bangsamoro autonomous government.

Drilon said the present set-up, where there exists an ARMM will prevail if the proposed bill on the BBL will not be passed by Congress before the May 2016 elections.

Existing laws call for a synchronized elections between the elections in the national level as well as in the ARMM.

“If the BBL does not pass, then the structure is the same as it is today. The elections will be synchronized in May of 2016 as that is the law today,” Drilon said.

“The filing of CoCs is in Oct., but the deadline is in October because of the automation. This is a rule imposed as a deadline by the Comelec, not by law, because they need enough time to prepare. So we have to consult the Comelec as to when they can really move the time of the filing of the COCs.

“We would want that as right now, the law is synchronized elections,” he added.

If at all, the BBL will still be passed by the two Houses toward the end of the present 16th Congress, it would be already a foregone conclusion that the Bangsamoro government can only be established after the 2016 elections or three years after.

“That would be the logical conclusion. That is why we appeal to the reasonableness of everyone, for national interests, to pass this bill as early as possible. If we agree that it is for our national interes, then we should work together on this,” he said.

More BBL hearings set


DRILON

Marcos’ panel has scheduled another public hearing on the BBL today but Drilon is already resigned to the fact that the Senate version of the BBL can’t be approved by the end of the current Congress session this week.

“Marcos is still drafting his committee report and maybe a substitute bill which will address all the shortcomings both legal, social, economic and political in this bill. We have to await that, and he has committed to me that he will submit the committee report when we come back in session on July 27. He is the chairman of the committee on local government, and I would respect that timetable,” he said.

“In a months’ time, I think it’s reasonable - August or September. That is not a deadline,” Drilon stressed.

Marcos dismissed Drilon’s idea saying that he had just been told by the Comelec that there will be no rescheduling of the Oct. deadline for the filing of CoCs.

“I was just with (Comelec) Comm. (Rowena) Guanzon and she says the Oct. deadline for the filing of the COCs for the May 2016 elections will have to be followed,” Marcos said.

Even the idea of holding a special session to expedite the deliberations would not be feasible especially on the part of the Senate as they have no bill to debate on in the first place.

“The Senate still does not have a version (of the bill) to discuss in a special session. What will happen is that the senators may be around but there would be nothing to talk about since there isn’t any committee report yet nor the substitute bill,” Marcos said.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said deferring the deadline for the filing of the COCs is a decision that only the Comelec can make as a constitutional body.

This has been done in the past especially when Congress passed laws such as creation of new provinces and cities, he said.

As a matter of procedure in crafting the substitute bill, Marcos said he would start from the draft BBL and address first the constitutional issues to remedy them.

Next, according to the senator, is to tackle the administrative issues and the political issues, specifically the matter of power-sharing between the national government and the Bangsamoro regional government.

Marcos said he would also address the economic issues, including the controversial provisions on taxation and share in the national wealth.

“It has to be shown what justifies the differences in the share in national wealth and the share in taxes between our local government units and the Bangsamoro government,” Marcos said.

“We need to show what justifies the huge difference in the share of taxes and in revenues from exploration of natural resources between regular local government units and the Bangsamoro government,” Marcos said.

Marcos noted that under the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro government will retain 100 percent of taxes collected within their jurisdiction.

In contrast, other LGU’s remit to the national government all internal revenue taxes collected in their area and it will return to them in the form of IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) where they will get a 40 percent share, while the national government will get 60 percent.

In the case of national wealth taxes, local government share is 40 percent.

Marcos said he will try to address in the substitute bill the various issues raised against the draft BBL to ensure the version he would present to the plenary would not only stand the test of constitutionality, address the concern of major stakeholders, and practical enough to work towards the goal of achieving a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.

“We are creating an entirely unique form of local government which we never conceived of before. And so that is why we have to be very very careful in what we are doing because we might cause more problems than we are trying to solve,” Marcos said.

House leaders turn desperate

The House leadership also appears now willing to compromise on the content of the bill as approved by the ad hoc committee on BBL, saying it is open to deleting the controversial opt-in provision to head off the possible rejection of the bill as opposition to it mounts.


Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (right) and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II: INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

This was bared yesterday by Majority Leader, Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales in a press briefing he called after a closed door meeting with Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte and other House leaders.

But even as this developed, oppositors to the BBL remain unperturbed with some adopting a wait-and-see attitude until the provision is actually deleted from the proposed measure.

“The Speaker, House leadership, Senate leadership are open to its (op-in provision) deletion so that members of Congress whose advocacy is to oppose the measure because of fears, whether real or imaginary that they may be included in the BBL, will be quashed,” Gonzales said.

Asked what particular provinces have voiced strong opposition to the opt-in provision, Gonzales cited the cases of Palawan and Sarangani.

He however clarified the deletion could only happen during the period of amendment, which would not take place until Congress resumes session in July after President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino delivers his last state of the nation address (SONA) as he admitted the House of Representatives would not be able to meet the deadline imposed by the president on June 11.

“I came from a meeting with the House leadership, party leaders. There is unanimity among us that we end the period of interpellation on Wednesday,” Gonzales said.

“The session will start at 10 am so that we won’t have session on Thursday,” he added.

“So we will have the period of amendments when we come back,” Gonzales said.

Congress will go on adjournment sine die this week.

Gonzales however said he doesn’t see the delay in the timetable for the passage of the BBL as a setback as they can still approve it by October and conduct of plebiscite three months after.

“Anyway, you don’t need to conduct the election right away,” said the Majority Leader.

“An election can always be provided for by the law. The first election can be held after the national elections with a proviso that the term of elected officials will only be until June 30, 2019 so that the 2019 polls will be synchronized with the national elections,” he explained.

While acknowledging the proposed compromise could be met with opposition from Muslim lawmakers, Gonzales said he is hoping they would understand the situation as it would be better than not having the proposed measure or any part thereof approved at all.

They know how it runs on the floor. It will be hard to ram it through if you don’t know your numbers,” said Gonzales.

“At the end of the day, we need votes, and those who oppose such opt-in provision are quite many,” he stressed.

However, Gonzales said he could not ensure the proposed compromise could lessen the numbers of interpellators as the oppositors to the measure could have other issues in mind other than the opt-in provision.

Gonzales’ apprehension was shared by Yacap Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez, one of the staunch critics of the measure.

“While the opt-in provision is one of the provisions I strongly opposed for the legitimate concern that it could one day include my province, Sarangani, there are other issues I and my other colleagues are opposing,” Lopez told the Tribune in a telephone interview.
Charlie V. Manalo



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