TERM EXTENSION TO CHANGE P-NOY IMAGE FROM REFORMER TO 'TRAPO' 

SEPT 8 --President Benigno S. Aquino III would be remembered as a traditional politician or “trapo” eaten by the same system he tried to change if he pushes for charter amendments that would extend his term, experts said. Image consultant and author Lloyd Luna said Aquino’s openness to another term was “a total disconnect and an exact opposite of what we expect from him.”  “His (Aquino) plan made an impression that we all got it wrong, that we thought he's not the same like Marcos, Ramos and Arroyo. We elected him because we thought he is different,” he said.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and stayed in power for 20 years while former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Arroyo backed attempts to lift the term limits in the 1987 Constitution. Luna said Aquino’s once trustworthy brand has been tainted with doubt. “In effect, his sincerity before may be perceived as yet another traditional political move more than a genuine leadership,” he said. “He will be marked as a Philippine president eaten by the same system that he has been trying hard to change for the better.” Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, agreed, saying a term extension would tarnish Aquino’s image as a reformer and would bring him down to the level of traditional politicians. “The campaign will consume his last two years in office. The critics will have a field day and will be in a position to diminish further his popularity. Both his legacy and that of his parents will also be tarnished or even negated,” Casiple said.

Change of heart Last month, Aquino told News 5 that he is open to charter change and a second term to continue the reforms started by his administration. He also complained about the so-called judicial reach, which he claimed, enabled the Supreme Court to meddle with political questions. Aquino made the statement after the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional some actions under his disbursement acceleration program (DAP), which, critics claimed, was used to influence the outcome of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Before the court issued the ruling, Aquino was against any amendment to the 1987 Constitution, which was promulgated during the term of his mother, the late president and democracy icon Corazon “Cory” Aquino. Malacañang officials said Aquino would first listen to his “bosses” or the public before making a final decision on term extension. Sonny Africa, executive director of think tank Ibon Foundation, said Aquino’s recent statements reflect patronage politics “clothed in 21st century good governance rhetoric.”  “President Aquino has only established that his administration is still about old-type personalistic and patronage politics. To argue that continuity depends on the persistence of specific politicians, such as the president himself, rather than on political parties is completely about personalistic politics,” he added.

Africa said good governance is not about personalities but building democratic institutions and following democratic processes. ‘Act like a mortal’ Melencio Sta. Maria, Dean of Far Eastern University Institute of Law said there is nothing wrong with Aquino’s openness to charter change. “Let us keep in mind that the Constitution made under Cory’s term can be amended if really needed. It was what Cory and those who drafted the Constitution had signed,” Sta, Maria said. “There is nothing wrong there. It is not illegal. It is not against the legacy of Cory. The president has his own independent perspective like any other president, like his mother,” he added.  *READ MORE...

ALSO: Bangsamoro law set for submission  

SEPT 8 --President Aquino will submit the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law bill to Congress on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Senate sources told The STAR that the submission of the draft bill will be held in a ceremony in Malacañang to be attended by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., together with other leaders of both houses of Congress. It could not be confirmed, however, whether representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as the government negotiating panel led by professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer will be attending the ceremony.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. would not confirm the Wednesday submission, and said yesterday that the only thing he knows is that the measure will be submitted to Congress before Aquino leaves for Europe on Sept. 13. “The draft BBL is now undergoing final stages of refinement,” Coloma quoted Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles as saying. “By the estimate of Moro Islamic Liberation Front panel and Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal, the draft bill is now 99.99 percent done,” Deles said in a statement. According to Deles, the draft BBL “was completed almost two weeks ago” by Aquino. “On the basis of the President’s comments, there were further discussion and exchange of notes between MILF and the Office of the President, the results of which were also submitted to the President,” she said. &READ MORE...

ALSO: Congress sees no Moro law this year  

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will submit the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to congressional leaders during a turnover ceremony at the Palace on Wednesday, but House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte (photo) said Monday the prospects were dim that the bill would be passed as quickly as the Palace hoped. “I think it will prosper but it will be hard to catch up this year,” Belmonte said citing time and budgetary constraints. Belmonte also lamented Malacañang’s decision to leave out some P679.1 million in funding for the conduct of a plebiscite that would be needed to ratify the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Belmonte, who earlier created a special committee to speed up the passage of the bill, said the legislative calendar was such that Congress would be hard pressed to pass the law according to the Palace timetable.

Belmonte made his statement even as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said Monday it would consider it unfortunate if Congress failed to pass the BBL this year. “The MILF would not be happy about it,” MILF vice chairman for Political Affairs Gadzali Jaafar said after he was asked what their next plan was if the BBL suffered a defeat. “We don’t know what will happen in case Congress foregos the BBL,” Jaafar said, adding they were closely monitoring the events in Congress. “We will cross the bridge when we get there,” he said when pressed to comment on what would happen if the BBL was not enacted. 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House minority and former peace negotiator, said the government’s failure to allocate funds to make the BBL operational and implementable cast doubt on the administration’s sincerity. “If Malacanang is serious in achieving a genuine peace accord with the MILF and other Muslim rebel groups, Malacanang should include in the budget an allocation to meet the demands that naturally comes with the agreement,” Bello said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Bangsamoro law goes to Congress  

SEPT 11 --The Bangsamoro entity moved closer to realization yesterday as President Aquino submitted to Congress the draft of the basic law creating the special autonomous Muslim region. Officials said there was no need to amend the Constitution to create the parliamentary form of government envisioned for the Bangsamoro. The parliament members must be elected in a popular vote. Once enacted, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) must be ratified in a plebiscite in the affected areas. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the special committee tasked to study the BBL, said the plebiscite may be held in February or March next year.

The draft BBL does not include provisions for “normalization” or decommissioning of weapons of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace agreement with the government last March. Aquino asked the people to support the peace initiative as the negotiating panels turned over copies of the BBL to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. at Malacañang. Drilon gave assurance that the bill would have bipartisan support in the Senate and it would be passed in the first quarter of 2015. “It is clear: we have been given a rare chance to prove, not only to ourselves, but to the entire world, that we can achieve what was once thought to be impossible,” Aquino said, adding that it was time to choose the path to “lasting peace.” “Let us continue to work together, so that we may bequeath to the next generations a Philippines that is free from conflict, that bears the mark of lasting progress, and that enjoys the admiration of all corners of the world,” he said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy set to convene majority caucus on draft law  

SEPT 11 --President Aquino has called for a meeting tomorrow of lawmakers from the majority coalition in the House of Representatives to secure their support for the speedy passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the meeting, scheduled at 10 a.m., will be attended by lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, Centrist Democratic Party and some party-list groups.

“The President will make a personal appeal for us to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Gonzales said yesterday. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Aquino urged Congress to pass the draft BBL as soon as possible. Asked if the President has set a deadline, Belmonte said there was none. “It is hard to set a deadline on a matter like this,” he said. Senate President Franklin Drilon remained optimistic that a majority of the senators will be approving the BBL. Drilon has counted the support of his fellow administration senators, as well those from the minority led by Sen. Vicente Sotto III, for immediate approval of the BBL. “The minority leader has signed as co-author of the bill. We will, nevertheless, examine the bill extensively to make sure that it complies with the Constitution and the implementation will not require amending it,” Drilon said.

Sotto said he is supporting the measure but he has expressed intent to study it to ensure that it will pass questions regarding constitutionality. Drilon revealed the Senate and the House of Representatives would discuss the measure “simultaneously.” “We will expect to tackle in plenary the BBL, if it is finished in the committee level by December, but to be safe, probably in January,” Drilon said. He said the Senate aims to pass the 2015 budget by November, and then discuss the BBL after that. Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said the committee would be scrutinizing every page of the BBL. Though President Aquino has given assurance on the constitutionality of the measure, Marcos said it is yet to be established if the BBL will really be beneficial to the people.

“We will study this proposal very carefully. We will not rush its submission to Congress. More important for us is the participation of stakeholders in Mindanao. We want to hear them speak. We will listen,” he said. Marcos said the committee plans to undertake consultative meetings with all sectors in major cities and towns in Mindanao. Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace, unification and reconciliation, expressed confidence the measure will be approved by the body before the year ends. He hopes it will also be subject to plebiscite by next year to enable the administration to push through with the process of putting mechanisms in place for a peaceful Mindanao. *READ MORE...

ALSO Philstar Opinion: Bangsamoro: Noy’s good-or-bust game 

HIGH STAKES: By the same token that President Noynoy Aquino asks critics not to allow politics to derail passage of the basic law creating the Bangsamoro in Muslim Mindanao, we plead that he not crack the administration party whip to railroad its approval within his tight deadline. Let a free and full debate rage, devoid of partisan and personal considerations, so the people’s  representatives in the Congress can vote freely on the measure and, afterwards, the people can decide intelligently in the plebiscite for its formalization.

The high-stakes good-or-bust gamble that President Aquino is playing is fraught with perils and promise. At its best, the creation of an enlarged Bangsamoro boosted with greater power and resources than other local governments in the rest of the Republic could bring peace and prosperity in strife-torn Mindanao. At its worst, however, the insertion of a parliamentary-type Bangsamoro into our presidential system could lay the basis for a separate Muslim state spinning off under the principle of the self-determination of peoples. * * * SECRET GAME: The big problem facing the national constituency is that the people generally do not know what happened behind the closed doors of the negotiations, except what was selectively fed them in paltry press releases.

Even the senators and the congressmen now being stampeded to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law have not read the text of the measure and the annexes. They were kept out of the negotiations. After years of secret talks on the comprehensive contract with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and months of delay in the rewriting of the final BBL, President Aquino turned over the documents to legislative leaders only the other day.

That is one basic weakness of the compartmentalized exclusive process. From the very beginning, it was only Malacañang (not the government as is being made to appear) talking to the MILF (not to a representative panel of the Muslim community). Now suddenly, the President wants the Congress and the public at large to peek into the documents and approve the creation of a Bangsamoro that could well transform itself into a separate state notwithstanding its promise to the contrary. *READ MORE...


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Term extension 'to change P-Noy image from reformer to trapo’


Motivational Speaker and Author-- LLOYD ABRIA LUNA, popularly known in social media as #PambansangInspirasyon, is an international motivational speaker and comedian, author of ten self-help books, radio and television talk show host, newspaper and magazine columnist, composer, speechwriter, publisher, serial entrepreneur and a life mentor. With all his talents and skills, he could have gone overseas and made more personal wealth. Instead, he stayed. He is an OFW who never left his country because he believes in the Philippines and its people. His remarkable story of turning life’s misery into opportunities has been inspiring many Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea since 2005. He is the President and CEO of LLOYD LUNA Communications. At age 31, he was nominated to the 2013 Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines. FROM http://www.lloydluna.com/

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Irene Bongcales - President Benigno S. Aquino III would be remembered as a traditional politician or “trapo” eaten by the same system he tried to change if he pushes for charter amendments that would extend his term, experts said.

Image consultant and author Lloyd Luna said Aquino’s openness to another term was “a total disconnect and an exact opposite of what we expect from him.”

“His (Aquino) plan made an impression that we all got it wrong, that we thought he's not the same like Marcos, Ramos and Arroyo. We elected him because we thought he is different,” he said.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and stayed in power for 20 years while former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Arroyo backed attempts to lift the term limits in the 1987 Constitution.

Luna said Aquino’s once trustworthy brand has been tainted with doubt.

“In effect, his sincerity before may be perceived as yet another traditional political move more than a genuine leadership,” he said. “He will be marked as a Philippine president eaten by the same system that he has been trying hard to change for the better.”

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, agreed, saying a term extension would tarnish Aquino’s image as a reformer and would bring him down to the level of traditional politicians.

“The campaign will consume his last two years in office. The critics will have a field day and will be in a position to diminish further his popularity. Both his legacy and that of his parents will also be tarnished or even negated,” Casiple said.

Change of heart Last month, Aquino told News 5 that he is open to charter change and a second term to continue the reforms started by his administration. He also complained about the so-called judicial reach, which he claimed, enabled the Supreme Court to meddle with political questions.

Aquino made the statement after the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional some actions under his disbursement acceleration program (DAP), which, critics claimed, was used to influence the outcome of the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Before the court issued the ruling, Aquino was against any amendment to the 1987 Constitution, which was promulgated during the term of his mother, the late president and democracy icon Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

Malacañang officials said Aquino would first listen to his “bosses” or the public before making a final decision on term extension.

Sonny Africa, executive director of think tank Ibon Foundation, said Aquino’s recent statements reflect patronage politics “clothed in 21st century good governance rhetoric.”

“President Aquino has only established that his administration is still about old-type personalistic and patronage politics. To argue that continuity depends on the persistence of specific politicians, such as the president himself, rather than on political parties is completely about personalistic politics,” he added.

Africa said good governance is not about personalities but building democratic institutions and following democratic processes.

‘Act like a mortal’ Melencio Sta. Maria, Dean of Far Eastern University Institute of Law said there is nothing wrong with Aquino’s openness to charter change.

“Let us keep in mind that the Constitution made under Cory’s term can be amended if really needed. It was what Cory and those who drafted the Constitution had signed,” Sta, Maria said.

“There is nothing wrong there. It is not illegal. It is not against the legacy of Cory. The president has his own independent perspective like any other president, like his mother,” he added.

* Sta. Maria, however, believes Aquino would not run for re-election.

“His experience in life, history of their family, everything he has been through to achieve the presidency, he is not running again. This is enough for him,” he said.

Antonio Contreras, a political science professor at the De La Salle University, said the DAP issue, which prodded Aquino to change his mind on charter change, has spawned criticisms of the way he deals with opposing views.

“Criticisms against him (Aquino) have been invigorated by depicting him as someone who does not respect institutions like the constitution, and who has tendencies of arguing that the end justifies the means,” said Contreras.

“He should begin to act like a mortal, that he is not infallible, and should be more a unifier than a divisive leader. He should stop labeling his critics as anti-reform. Many of his critics are also for reform,” he added.

Not yet too late While Aquino has been receiving tirades because of DAP and his openness to a second term, experts believe he still has time to redeem his image.

“Part of the history, yes he will be known as someone who violated the Constitution since it (DAP) is the cause of what is happening now. But it will not totally tarnish his good record,” said campaign manager and image consultant Butch Arellano.

“I believe, he will recover with this soon,” he added.

Bobby Tuazon of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance noted that past presidents began their term with a relatively high or positive rating only to plunge by the time they step down from office.

“Aquino’s rating began to slide as early as 2011 – with some periods of recovery - and it’s foreseeable based on this trend that it will further dip in two years. But he is still the president until June 2016.

“Being PR (public relations)-conscious, the president will be concerned with recovering his credibility on this final stretch but to add meaning to his remaining term there are things that he can still do,” he added.

Tuazon said Aquino should be able to complete the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, resume negotiations with the communists, and push for the enactment of anti-dynasty and Freedom of Information Act.

Luna believes the president should make a categorical statement that he is not prolonging his stay in power.

“Go out and tell the Philippines that this is what we can only do in six years. I am not seeking another term. I am done. And I will leave this office knowing that I did everything that I could, if that is even true,” he added.

Contreras said Aquino is already entering the lame duck phase of his term, where he would gradually lose influence and control.

“The controversies have further made his lame duck status more precarious. He is now a wounded lame duck,” Contreras said.

“His last year and 10 months will be very challenging to him, more so if his numbers in surveys keep declining. His allies and Congress may begin to desert him once they feel that he is losing his influence and his endorsement may no longer hold punch,” he added.

Contreras said it is too early to tell whether Aquino’s last years would redeem him or cement his legacy as one of failed reform.

“It all now depends on how he will behave in the last year and 10 months of his term,” he said.

Bangsamoro law set for submission By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 8, 2014 - 12:00am 6 42 googleplus0 0


President Benigno Aquino III, second from right standing, looks beside, from left, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, applauds after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, Datu Tengku Gnafar and Miriam Coronel Ferrer of the Philippine government in a ceremony at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday March 27, 2014. The Philippine government signed a peace accord with the country's largest Muslim rebel group on Thursday, the culmination of years of negotiations and a significant political achievement for President Aquino. AP /Ryan Lim/ Malacañang Photo Bureau, HO

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will submit the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law bill to Congress on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Senate sources told The STAR that the submission of the draft bill will be held in a ceremony in Malacañang to be attended by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., together with other leaders of both houses of Congress.

It could not be confirmed, however, whether representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as the government negotiating panel led by professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer will be attending the ceremony.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. would not confirm the Wednesday submission, and said yesterday that the only thing he knows is that the measure will be submitted to Congress before Aquino leaves for Europe on Sept. 13.

“The draft BBL is now undergoing final stages of refinement,” Coloma quoted Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles as saying.

“By the estimate of Moro Islamic Liberation Front panel and Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal, the draft bill is now 99.99 percent done,” Deles said in a statement.

According to Deles, the draft BBL “was completed almost two weeks ago” by Aquino.

“On the basis of the President’s comments, there were further discussion and exchange of notes between MILF and the Office of the President, the results of which were also submitted to the President,” she said.

* The government negotiating panel and the MILF camp failed to meet their target to submit the draft priority measure to Congress on the last week of August.

MILF chief negotiator Iqbal signed the cover letter of the draft bill, addressed to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., when they submitted the measure to President Aquino.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will embody the comprehensive peace agreement signed last March by the MILF and the government, aiming to end the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

The bill seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The measure is expected to stipulate power-sharing and wealth-sharing arrangements between the national government and the new political entity.

Once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed and signed into law by Aquino, a plebiscite will be conducted in the envisioned core territory of the Bangsamoro to ratify the new government that will replace the ARMM by 2016.

Polls for a Bangsamoro Political Entity will be held alongside the May 2016 presidential and local elections.

The crafting of the Bangsamoro bill was stalled for months after Aquino’s legal team supposedly made changes to the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

Iqbal even earlier said that his camp’s peace negotiators will “lose face” if they accept the proposed law with the revisions made by the President’s lawyers.

Last month, Aquino’s advisers and the peace panels finally reached agreement on “crucial issues” in the draft law, paving the way for the bill’s submission to Malacañang.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Congress sees no Moro law this year By Maricel Cruz, Joyce P. Pañares and Macon R. Araneta | Sep. 09, 2014 at 12:01am

MILF unhappy about it, won’t say what’s next


BELMONTE

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will submit the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to congressional leaders during a turnover ceremony at the Palace on Wednesday, but House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Monday the prospects were dim that the bill would be passed as quickly as the Palace hoped.

“I think it will prosper but it will be hard to catch up this year,” Belmonte said citing time and budgetary constraints.

Belmonte also lamented Malacañang’s decision to leave out some P679.1 million in funding for the conduct of a plebiscite that would be needed to ratify the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Belmonte, who earlier created a special committee to speed up the passage of the bill, said the legislative calendar was such that Congress would be hard pressed to pass the law according to the Palace timetable.

Belmonte made his statement even as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said Monday it would consider it unfortunate if Congress failed to pass the BBL this year.

“The MILF would not be happy about it,” MILF vice chairman for Political Affairs Gadzali Jaafar said after he was asked what their next plan was if the BBL suffered a defeat.

“We don’t know what will happen in case Congress foregos the BBL,” Jaafar said, adding they were closely monitoring the events in Congress.

“We will cross the bridge when we get there,” he said when pressed to comment on what would happen if the BBL was not enacted.

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House minority and former peace negotiator, said the government’s failure to allocate funds to make the BBL operational and implementable cast doubt on the administration’s sincerity.

“If Malacanang is serious in achieving a genuine peace accord with the MILF and other Muslim rebel groups, Malacanang should include in the budget an allocation to meet the demands that naturally comes with the agreement,” Bello said.

* Bello said if the proposed BBL is enacted, there are so many organizational and logistical requirements that need government funding.

“It would be impossible to pass a law that would not be implementable at all because of the lack of government funding to give it life and meaning,” Bello said.

In a speech in Davao City Monday, the President talked up the prospects for peace in Mindanao.

“Our countrymen in Mindanao will see a new future on the horizon: the dawn of peace, stability, and ultimately prosperity. It is therefore only right that we commit further to the realization of this promise by finding ways to maximize the long-held prospects for growth for all stakeholders,” he said.

“Clearly we must boost Mindanao’s capacities, so that they themselves may catch up and contribute to our economic growth,” the President added.

All members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission signed the transmission letter of the final BBL draft on Sunday.

The BBL is among the priority measures of the House and it will be certified as urgent by the Palace to ensure that it is passed into law by the first quarter of 2015 at the latest.

Once the draft BBL is passed into law, a plebiscite will be held in the areas that will constitute the Bangsamoro territory.

Malacanang was expected to submit the draft BBL to Congress as early as July 28, but last-minute disagreements held up the draft.

The BBL, once passed, will create a new political entity to be called the Bangsamoro that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The President, who earlier described the ARMM as a failed experiment, said a plebiscite must be held in the areas that will comprise the BBL by the end of the year.

“Our target is not the first quarter of next year. What we target is to hold the plebiscite by the end of this year if possible. What we want is to give the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority at least one year and a half to run the system,” the President said.

But in an earlier interview, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda acceded that the BBL may no longer be passed into law by December amid the delays in the submission of the measure to Congress.

Lacierda said even if the BBL was passed into law by the first quarter of 2015, the administration still has enough time to put in place a Bangsamoro Transition Authority ahead of the 2016 elections.

“Certainly, we would hope that we can expedite the process, but we realize that it’s not yet been submitted to Congress. So they are being realistic on the timetable,” Lacierda said.

The executive branch earlier scrapped the budget for the plebiscite under the Commission on Elections.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained that P2.7 billion has already been earmarked for the enactment of the BBL.

On Monday, the House adopted a resolution creating an ad hoc committee with 75 members to review, evaluate and propose legislation relative to the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro, mandated to finish its work within six months from its establishment.

“This is to help expedite the process of approving the measure,” said House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II.

The resolution passed Monday said the ad hoc committee will exercise jurisdiction over all matters directly and principally relating to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Belmonte said he would immediately elect the officials and members of the ad hoc committee, which would be led by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Gonzales said creating the ad hoc panel is a practical way of deliberating the BBL instead of allowing four standing committees to hold joint hearings.

Gonzales said the House has almost completed the selection of five lawmakers who will serve as his vice chairmen in the ad hoc committee.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said Monday that the BBL could be passed before March 2015 if politics don’t get in the way.

“It will be up to the politicians. That is why we are asking them to set aside everything related to the 2016 national elections so that we can focus on the BBL, which is for the peace and progress of the country,” he said.

He said he expected to start debates on the BBL during the first week of December.

Drilon on Sunday called on fellow senators and members of the House of Representatives to set aside political bickering and individual political aspirations for 2016 to achieve a lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao.

He said the Senate will immediately start deliberations on the proposed BBL once it is submitted.

“We will request the Senate Committee on Local Government headed by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Senate Committee on Peace, Unity and Unification headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III to immediately conduct committee-level hearings,” said Drilon.

By the time the 2015 national budget is brought for plenary debates, Drilon said he expects that substantial discussions on the BBL draft have already been made.

“We will have to terminate temporarily the discussion on the BBL to give way for the 2015 budget. But we will immediately shift discussions back to the BBL once the budget is passed by the first or second week of December,” he added.

FROM PHILSTAR

Bangsamoro law goes to Congress By Aurea Calica and Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 11, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


President Aquino witnesses the handover of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law by Transition Commission chairman Mohagher Iqbal and Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. at Malacañang yesterday. WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangsamoro entity moved closer to realization yesterday as President Aquino submitted to Congress the draft of the basic law creating the special autonomous Muslim region.

Officials said there was no need to amend the Constitution to create the parliamentary form of government envisioned for the Bangsamoro. The parliament members must be elected in a popular vote.

Once enacted, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) must be ratified in a plebiscite in the affected areas. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the special committee tasked to study the BBL, said the plebiscite may be held in February or March next year.

The draft BBL does not include provisions for “normalization” or decommissioning of weapons of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace agreement with the government last March.

Aquino asked the people to support the peace initiative as the negotiating panels turned over copies of the BBL to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. at Malacañang.

Drilon gave assurance that the bill would have bipartisan support in the Senate and it would be passed in the first quarter of 2015.

“It is clear: we have been given a rare chance to prove, not only to ourselves, but to the entire world, that we can achieve what was once thought to be impossible,” Aquino said, adding that it was time to choose the path to “lasting peace.”

“Let us continue to work together, so that we may bequeath to the next generations a Philippines that is free from conflict, that bears the mark of lasting progress, and that enjoys the admiration of all corners of the world,” he said.

* Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the submission of the proposed BBL to Congress leaders brought them to the next crucial stage in the roadmap to the Bangsamoro political entity: the formal legislative process.

“The proposed BBL has transposed into legal form and further elaborated on the various annexes – notably the wealth-sharing and power-sharing annexes – to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It builds on the foundation provided by the past organic acts on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Ferrer said.

Unlike in the ARMM, the Bangsamoro will have a parliamentary system. Ferrer explained that this “would allow for a broader base of political representation and participation in governance. It would compel the formation of competitive and sustainable political parties in the region.”

She said Charter change is not needed for this.

“The Constitution says the law shall define the structure of government of the autonomous region. The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law defines it as parliamentary,” she said.

Under the proposed measure, the Bangsamoro parliament shall have at least 60 members. Half of them will be elected through a system of proportional representation, 40 percent will come from single member districts and 10 percent will represent key sectors in the Bangsamoro.

The parliament will have two reserved seats each for non-Muslim indigenous communities and settler communities. Women will also have a reserved seat.

Deleted

Excluded from the draft BBL was the sensitive provision on decommissioning of MILF firearms, which was stipulated in previous documents.

The disarmament provision was nowhere to be found in the draft BBL and its annexes, which cover the creation of a Bangsamoro police to handle public order and safety in the proposed entity.

Ferrer acknowledged the absence of the provision, but explained that this was no longer necessary because decommissioning does not need a law for its implementation.

“The proposed law is to establish the Bangsamoro entity. The decommissioning provision is being implemented by the government. This doesn’t need a law to implement,” she said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles gave a similar statement.

“The normalization process doesn’t have to be in the law, except for the part on the setting up of a police force. It’s an executive action that doesn’t need new legislation,” Deles explained.

In December last year, President Aquino admitted he did not expect a walk in the park in negotiating the decommissioning with the MILF.

He earlier said normalization would signify the MILF’s trust in the government.

“The normalization is a return of sorts to what we call the fold of the law,” Aquino earlier said.

In this phase of the negotiations, he said, MILF weapons would be “safeguarded.”

He admitted that laying down arms would be “a contentious issue” for the MILF.

Joining the political arena

Ferrer welcomed the ongoing efforts of the MILF to form a party that would serve as its vehicle for participation in electoral politics and consequently assist in its members’ transformation from combatants to full-time civilians and Filipino citizens.

“We enjoin other groups and sectors to consider forming their political parties that would equally enable them to participate fairly and peacefully in the Bangsamoro elections in 2016 and thereafter,” Ferrer said.

The Bangsamoro government will enjoy significant powers above those granted to the ARMM. Ferrer said these will be based on the powers given to autonomous regions under the Constitution.

The new political entity will enjoy fiscal autonomy, with its own revenue-generating powers. It will get an automatically appropriated annual block grant similar to the internal revenue allotment (IRA) received by other local governments.

The entity will receive other forms of funding support, Ferrer said.

Turning point

Deles said the turnover of the draft BBL to Congress was a turning point in the administration’s quest for peace in Mindanao.

She said the draft BBL embodies the substance and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed by the government and MILF negotiating panels last March 27.

Areas that ratify the BBL will be governed by a Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), whose members will be appointed by the President.

The first elections for the Bangsamoro parliament will be held simultaneously with the general elections in 2016.

“This political roadmap is firmly on track, and we hold our congressional leaders to their promise to prioritize the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We are grateful beyond words for the patience, fortitude and resilience shown by the government and MILF peace panels, as well as the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, in the pursuit of peace, guided solely by the best intentions not only for the Bangsamoro people, but also for the entire country,” Deles said.

She assured the public that the BBL will be enacted within the framework of the 1987 Constitution.

Deles said they look forward to a vigorous public debate on every provision of the draft BBL.

The MILF is confident that the BBL will be passed by Congress within the year.

“We are hoping it will not become a watered down BBL,” said Ghazali Jaafar, the MILF’s vice chairman for political affairs.

For his part, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said lawmakers must make the BBL the basis for lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao.

“This, our esteemed legislators, is a daunting task. The future of a people who for centuries have fought for self-determination now lies in your hands,” Hataman said.

He said the creation of the Bangsamoro does not mean the end of the ARMM.

“It is the beginning of peace and progress, the groundwork for which was made by the ARMM. Far from being a failed experiment, the ARMM is living proof that good governance can lead only to success, and that success is what will fuel the Bangsamoro’s continuing quest for peace, progress and the right to self-rule,” he said.

Leaders of Mindanao’s business community also called on Congress to accelerate the passage of the BBL.

“We are confident Congress will approve it immediately,” said Vincent Lao, chairman of the Mindanao Business Council.

Lao said his group is confident that by promoting peace, the BBL will improve Mindanao’s business climate.

Lao urged lawmakers to set aside their political and personal interests when they deliberate on the BBL to hasten its passage.

The military, for its part, also expressed support for the speedy passage of the BBL.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said the BBL would allow the Bangsamoro people to chart their own political future.

“We believe that the successful implementation of the peace process with the eventual establishment of the Bangsamoro will provide the political solution that will end four decades of conflict in Mindanao,” Catapang said.

Going global

President Aquino said he will share with his counterparts in Europe the story of how the Bangsamoro concept came about.

“This Saturday evening, I will be traveling to Europe. The Bangsamoro Basic Law and the rest of our achievements in the area of peace are among the achievements that I will proudly share with the leaders and our countrymen in Spain, Belgium, France and Germany.

“I will tell them the story of how, through trusting and working with each other, we have reached this point in our history,” Aquino said.

“I will tell them that, while our success is not complete yet, we are all confident that our collective efforts towards a more progressive and more peaceful Philippines will continue,” he added.

Canada hailed the submission of the draft BBL to Congress yesterday.

Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder said the diligent efforts of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process continue to bring new hope for an era of opportunity for the people of Mindanao, the people of the Philippines and partners in the surrounding region.

“Canada welcomes the submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress. This and the pending substantive debate on the bill are important steps in the process aimed at achieving lasting peace and long-term prosperity in Mindanao,” Reeder said in a statement.

“Together with the international community, Canada remains committed to being an active partner in continuing our support for the establishment and implementation of the Bangsamoro,” he said.

The World Bank Group also hailed the submission of the draft law. “This is a crucial step in the road map to achieving peace and development in Mindanao,” the group said in a statement. – WithJose Rodel Clapano, John Unson, Pia Lee-Brago, Jaime Laude

Noy set to convene majority caucus on draft law By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 11, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


AQUINO

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has called for a meeting tomorrow of lawmakers from the majority coalition in the House of Representatives to secure their support for the speedy passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the meeting, scheduled at 10 a.m., will be attended by lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, National Unity Party, Centrist Democratic Party and some party-list groups.

“The President will make a personal appeal for us to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Gonzales said yesterday.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Aquino urged Congress to pass the draft BBL as soon as possible.

Asked if the President has set a deadline, Belmonte said there was none.

“It is hard to set a deadline on a matter like this,” he said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon remained optimistic that a majority of the senators will be approving the BBL.

Drilon has counted the support of his fellow administration senators, as well those from the minority led by Sen. Vicente Sotto III, for immediate approval of the BBL.

“The minority leader has signed as co-author of the bill. We will, nevertheless, examine the bill extensively to make sure that it complies with the Constitution and the implementation will not require amending it,” Drilon said.

Sotto said he is supporting the measure but he has expressed intent to study it to ensure that it will pass questions regarding constitutionality.

Drilon revealed the Senate and the House of Representatives would discuss the measure “simultaneously.”

“We will expect to tackle in plenary the BBL, if it is finished in the committee level by December, but to be safe, probably in January,” Drilon said.

He said the Senate aims to pass the 2015 budget by November, and then discuss the BBL after that.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said the committee would be scrutinizing every page of the BBL.

Though President Aquino has given assurance on the constitutionality of the measure, Marcos said it is yet to be established if the BBL will really be beneficial to the people.

“We will study this proposal very carefully. We will not rush its submission to Congress. More important for us is the participation of stakeholders in Mindanao. We want to hear them speak. We will listen,” he said.

Marcos said the committee plans to undertake consultative meetings with all sectors in major cities and towns in Mindanao.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on peace, unification and reconciliation, expressed confidence the measure will be approved by the body before the year ends.

He hopes it will also be subject to plebiscite by next year to enable the administration to push through with the process of putting mechanisms in place for a peaceful Mindanao.

* On the part of the House of Representatives, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said his colleagues would speed up the work for legislation of the BBL.

Rodriguez said he and his colleagues “have all agreed to give the draft BBL utmost priority, considering that it will open the doors to the creation of a new regional government in Muslim Mindanao.

“The timeline is tight but doable, precisely because the commitment is there to help our brothers and sisters in Bangsamoro areas attain the peace that they clearly deserve,” he said.

The House leadership is expected to name Rodriguez as chairman of the special committee that would tackle the proposed BBL.

The chamber, upon the initiative of Belmonte and Gonzales, has approved the creation of the committee.

The panel will adopt its own rules and procedures to govern its proceedings, and have a proportionate representation from the majority and minority blocs.

Rodriguez urged his colleagues to keep an open mind on the provisions of the proposed law that would establish a new Bangsamoro region.

“We need to approach this legislative proposal with the intent to end decades of fighting that have caused massive displacement of families in Mindanao. Let us provide democratic space so that all voices would be heard during the public hearings, including those from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), indigenous tribes, Christians and other sectors,” he said.

The Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said various stakeholders of the peace process have been eagerly awaiting congressional scrutiny of the draft law.

“As a proud Mindanaoan, I am very happy and thankful that the review process by the Office of the President is finally over and we can now study the legislative proposals of the government and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace panels as contained in the draft,” Rodriguez said.

No Charter amendments

According to Rodriguez, there is no need to amend the political provisions of the Constitution to implement the BBL if enacted.

Rodriguez said Article 10 of the Constitution provides for the election of members of the executive and legislative branches of government of autonomous regions.

“The Constitution simply provides for the election of the executive and legislative branches, in general, so the parliamentary form of government (in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region) conforms to the Constitution,” he said.

Rodriguez said the Senate and the House aim to enact a Bangsamoro Basic Law by Dec. 16, or before Congress goes on break, to allow the Commission on Elections time to prepare for a plebiscite.

He said the Comelec must be given 90 days to prepare for the plebiscite under the law.

“Our timetable is that we should have the plebiscite by February or March. We’ll hit the ground running,” Rodriguez said.

He added the panel would be having its organizational meeting next week.

Rodriguez said the committee will conduct hearings even during the recess next month.

Marcos, for his part, said the Senate panel would push through its consultations with stakeholders in Mindanao.

He said even the MNLF and its fugitive founder Nur Misuari could be invited to attend the hearings.

“Definitely, we should call the MNLF. In fact… He (Misuari) is still wanted in the sense that he has a warrant against him. We are thinking about allowing a suspension of that to allow chairman Nur Misuari to come and speak and give us his idea,” Marcos said.

Marcos noted Misuari is facing arrest over the Zamboanga City siege last year where hundreds of his followers took villagers hostage, burning their homes while fighting government troops and policemen.

Marcos said the uprising was precisely the result of what the MNLF felt was their being left out in the peace process with the rival MILF.

“So, let us allow (Misuari) in the process because clearly it will not succeed unless both the MILF and the MNLF are part of the process,” he added.

Marcos said he was expecting senators to support the bill.

“Who does not want peace? If this is another opportunity for us to find a true and lasting peace, nobody that I know of will want to squander such an opportunity; and so we must take full advantage of this chance,” he said.

No need to rush

Marcos said the proposed BBL was 120 pages long.

“We don’t know how long it will take to have it passed. We will not rush this but we will try to finish it as close to the original timetable that we had… this issue is complicated, this law is not ordinary and must be assessed carefully,” Marcos said.

Marcos said there would be no need for a special session just to pass the BBL.

Marcos added he was already coordinating with Rodriguez about their plans so they would avoid duplication in affected areas.

Marcos stressed the importance of allowing everyone the opportunity to be heard on the issue.

“So that’s the general plan right now. What will come out of, I think, the briefing will be how to delineate the different subjects,” Marcos said.

“We will just give everybody a chance. My approach to the entire process is simple… we will allow everyone who wants to say something or has a view or has an opinion that is valid and a reasonable one that we will give them a venue for them to make their case,” he added. – Christina Mendez, Jess Diaz, Aurea Calica

PHILSTAR OPINION

Bangsamoro: Noy’s good-or-bust game POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 11, 2014 - 12:00am 0 11 googleplus0 0


Federico D. Pascual Jr.

HIGH STAKES: By the same token that President Noynoy Aquino asks critics not to allow politics to derail passage of the basic law creating the Bangsamoro in Muslim Mindanao, we plead that he not crack the administration party whip to railroad its approval within his tight deadline.

Let a free and full debate rage, devoid of partisan and personal considerations, so the people’s representatives in the Congress can vote freely on the measure and, afterwards, the people can decide intelligently in the plebiscite for its formalization.

The high-stakes good-or-bust gamble that President Aquino is playing is fraught with perils and promise.

At its best, the creation of an enlarged Bangsamoro boosted with greater power and resources than other local governments in the rest of the Republic could bring peace and prosperity in strife-torn Mindanao.

At its worst, however, the insertion of a parliamentary-type Bangsamoro into our presidential system could lay the basis for a separate Muslim state spinning off under the principle of the self-determination of peoples.

* * *

SECRET GAME: The big problem facing the national constituency is that the people generally do not know what happened behind the closed doors of the negotiations, except what was selectively fed them in paltry press releases.

Even the senators and the congressmen now being stampeded to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law have not read the text of the measure and the annexes. They were kept out of the negotiations.

After years of secret talks on the comprehensive contract with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and months of delay in the rewriting of the final BBL, President Aquino turned over the documents to legislative leaders only the other day.

That is one basic weakness of the compartmentalized exclusive process. From the very beginning, it was only Malacañang (not the government as is being made to appear) talking to the MILF (not to a representative panel of the Muslim community).

Now suddenly, the President wants the Congress and the public at large to peek into the documents and approve the creation of a Bangsamoro that could well transform itself into a separate state notwithstanding its promise to the contrary.

* This undertaking that could change radically the course of Philippine history should not be rushed. After all it is already too late for the Nobel peace prize. Let us not force it if the terms of the contract with the MILF are lopsided against national interest.

* * *

MILF ISSUES: The President and MILF chair Al Haj Murad met last week to resolve remaining contentious issues in the draft BBL that the rebel group claimed departed substantially from the comprehensive peace agreement signed last March with fanfare in Malacañang.

Sources said the smoothing out of the irritants would have taken longer were President Aquino not preparing to leave this weekend for a 12-day trip to Europe and the United States. It was not clear what arguments he gave the MILF leader to simmer down.

The MILF panel has been insisting on a draft BBL based on previously agreed provisions in the annexes on the sharing of power, wealth and revenues, as well as the phased disarmament of MILF fighters.

The team of lawyers belatedly consulted by the President had objected to many of these sections, warning about the probability of a constitutional challenge. Mr. Aquino cannot bear being slapped down again by the Supreme Court.

* * *

GUNS, WEALTH, POWER: We can only guess the final version of the annex on the decommissioning of MILF forces and the surrender of their weapons, or if there is an unwritten understanding over their retaining access to their guns.

Another question (because the draft is unavailable) is the agreed ratio in the sharing among the MILF, the national/central government and other local government units in the revenues from mineral and natural resources.

If they have not changed the ratios agreed upon earlier, the MILF will get shares bigger than what other local governments are normally given. This looks like class legislation or discrimination which local governments outside the Bangsamoro may question.

(Btw, we refer to the Bangsamoro as the MILF, because in the transition commission which is to run things before the formal adoption of the new setup, majority of the 15 members, including the chair, are all MILF and the rest must be acceptable to them.

In short, the unfolding Bangsamoro extravaganza is and will be mostly an MILF show – which is one of the reasons why other Muslim factions, most of them heavily armed and also liberation-bent, are sure to object. Just watch.

* * *

LET’S SEE: President Aquino will be away Sept. 13 to 24, visiting Spain, Belgium, France, and the United States. His trip is billed as an attempt to enhance the country’s diplomatic relations and trade and investment links with these countries.

He will be in Spain Sept 14-15, Belgium Sept. 16, France Sept. 17 to 18, and in Germany Sept. 19-20. From Europe, the President will proceed to New York where he will speak at the Global Climate Change Summit.

His boys left in the Palace should busy themselves reproducing the BBL documents and distributing them. Although his focus is supposed to be diplomacy, trade and investment, he is likely to mention the Bangsamoro project as if it were already a done deal.

In his speech during the turnover in Malacañang of the draft BBL to congressional leaders, whom he asked to expedite its passage, he allayed fears that the Bangsamoro will run against the Constitution.

That we have to see.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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