I. On Bangsamoro Police (Continuation)
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 April) — Some provisions of Article XI on “Public Order and Safety” of Draft BBL (HB 4994 and SB 2408) have been marked for deletion or have been deleted by the committees steering the bill through the Congress. In the last issue, we discussed Section 8 on the “Powers of the Chief Minister” and Section 2 on the scope of the Bangsamoro Police Operation.
Below, we are going to discuss Section 4 on the “Bangsamoro Police Organizations” and Section 17 on “Coordination.” These two sections and the two already discussed are the references in the issues raised in the media concerning the Bangsamoro Police.
Mayors Lose Nothing
As stated by Rodriguez and Lobregat earlier: The law allows the Napolcom and PNP to delegate such authority to city and town mayors. If the draft BBL were kept intact, such power would be taken away from mayors and given to the Bangsamoro region’s chief minister. They are saying that what have been given to “city and town mayors” by RA 9054 will be taken away by Draft BBL if it “were … kept intact”.
This pertains to Section 4 on “Bangsamoro Police Organization” of Article XI of Draft BBL. How correct are Rodriguez and Lobregat? Let’s compare Section 4 and Section 7 on “Regional Police Framework and Organization” of Article XIII of RA 9054 [in parentheses bold italics]
Section 4. Bangsamoro Police Organization. – The structural organization of the Bangsamoro Police shall be as follows: [SEC. 7. Regional Police Framework and Organization. – The philosophical framework and structural organization of the Regional Police Force shall be as follows:]
- It shall be headed by a Bangsamoro Police Director, who shall be assisted by at least two (2) deputies. They shall be professional police officers with the rank of, at least, Police Chief Superintendent. For a period of ten (10) years, immediately following the enactment of this Basic Law, the head of the Bangsamoro Police and his deputies may be selected from a list of Bangsamoro Police officers with a rank of Police Senior Superintendent. [(c) It shall be headed by a regional director who shall be assisted by two deputies, one for administration and one for operations. The regional director and the two deputies shall come from the ranks of the professional police force, preferably from any province, city, or municipality of the autonomous region;]
- It shall have regional, provincial, and city or municipal offices; [(d) It shall have regional, provincial, and city or municipal offices;]
- The provincial office shall be headed by a provincial director, who shall be a professional police officer with the rank of, at least, police superintendent; and [e) At the provincial level, there shall be a provincial office headed by a provincial director who shall be a professional police officer with the rank of police superintendent, at least; and]
- The city or municipal office or station shall be headed by a Chief of Police, who shall be a professional police officer with the rank of, at least, police superintendent for the city and police inspector for the municipality. [(f) At the city or municipal level, there shall be an office or station, which shall be headed by a Chief of Police who shall be a professional police officer with the rank of police superintendent for the city, and police inspector for the municipality.]
Section 4 of Article XI of Draft BBL keeps exactly what Section 7 of Article XIII of RA 9054 provides. What will city and municipal mayors in Bangsamoro lose if Draft BBL is enacted intact? By Section 8, the Chief Minister only exercises the same seven powers of the Regional Governor.
Rodriguez, in the same April 22 Philippine Star report referred to earlier, said “another provision that his panel would delete is the one requiring the establishment of ‘coordination protocols’ between the Bangsamoro region and the national government in the deployment of military units anywhere in the region’s territory”.
This refers to “Section 17” on “Coordination” of Article XI of Draft BBL which is not in RA 9054. It states: “The Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government shall establish coordination protocols, which shall govern the movement of Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Bangsamoro.”
The second sentence of Section 1 (Article XI, Draft) states: “There shall be cooperation and coordination between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government through the intergovernmental relations mechanism.”
The question is: What’s wrong with cooperation and coordination? Does this violate any provision of the 1987 Constitution?
Rodriguez said: “The military cannot be restricted by coordination protocols in doing its job. It should be able to deploy its forces in any area in the country where they are needed without prior coordination with or consent from local authorities.” In other reports, he had said this coordination restricts the power of the President and violates the Constitution. He must be referring to Section 8 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.
This section states: “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. …” The term “all armed forces”, being of common nouns, includes the military and the police.
Sections “12 of Article XIII of RA 9054” and “16 of Article XI of Draft BBL” – both on “Calling Upon the Armed Forces” – are exactly the same in their principal provisions and in their three subsections.
However, while Section 12 provides “The President may on his own accord send the Armed Forces of the Philippines into the autonomous region to attain the above objectives if the Regional Governor does not act within fifteen (15) days after the occurrence of the events mentioned above [referring to the three subsections] that need to be suppressed, prevented, or suppressed (sic),” this provision is not in Section 16. Does this make Section 16 and the succeeding Section 17 unconstitutional?
Evidently, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) used Article XIII of R.A. 9054 as its reference in drafting Article XI of Draft BBL. The first has 13 sections; the second, 18. Seven provisions of Article XIII are the same in substance, content and intent as the nine provisions of Article XI with one of Article XIII contained in three of Article XI. They are major provisions.
It is intriguing to note:
- Rodriguez and Lobregat are questioning the powers of the Chief Minister over the Bangsamoro Police. Yet, these powers are the same as those granted to the Regional Governor of the ARMM under R.A. No. 9054.
- Both Draft BBL and R.A. No. 9054 define the scope of operation of the Police Organization as “regional” with the Draft specifying it as the “primary function”. The exercise of power by the Chief Minister over the Bangsamoro Police under Section 8 is in keeping with the “regional scope” of the operation of the Bangsamoro Police.
- They do not want the authority delegated to the provincial governors and the city and town mayors over the police in their jurisdictions taken away from them. Yet, Draft BBL delegates the same authority to the provincial governors and city and town mayors as does R.A. No. 9054.
- Does Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution prohibit coordination and cooperation between the President and the regional or local government executives? That the Regional Governor (XIII.12) and the Chief Minister (XI.16) “can call upon the Armed Forces” is a form of “coordination and cooperation”. What could have made Section 17 of Article XI of Draft BBL controversial is that it explicitly proposes “to establish coordination protocols”.
What do these mean?
The concept of autonomy of the peace negotiators, the BTC, the MILF and the Office of the President — including its scope and governmental operations – is different from that of the Congress. It is obvious that the Congress will stick to its concept; it will prevail since under the Constitution it alone has the power to enact laws.
In the long Government-MILF negotiation, it had been agreed to make Bangsamoro more autonomous than the ARMM. This guided the BTC in crafting Draft BBL; it adopted provisions of R.A. 9054 relevant to meaningful autonomy. Draft BBL is all about the meaningful autonomy of Bangsamoro in name and in fact.
Rodriguez, Lobregat, et al., in deleting “the provision in the draft BBL giving the chief minister operational, administrative and disciplinary control over police forces in the region”, want the Chief Minister to exercise less autonomy over the Bangsamoro Police than what the ARMM Governor has over the Regional Police.
The Congress will pass a BBL that will establish Bangsamoro, autonomous in name but in fact just according to the autonomy the members want – less autonomous than the ARMM. (Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)