COMMENT: BBL: On Deleted Provisions

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I. On Bangsamoro Police

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, April 24, 2015 – The House AHCBBL (Ad Hoc Committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law) said it had deleted five provisions of the Draft BBL, would delete three more and some others would be revised on grounds of constitutionality and legality. The Senate Committee on Local Government that is steering the Draft as Senate Bill 2408 has been saying the same – delete or revise provisions deemed unconstitutional or contrary to law.

These acts of the AHCBLL and the Senate Committee are a slap to the legal teams that had assisted the Government and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) negotiating panels and the Bangsamoro Transition Committee in crafting Draft BBL. They are an insult to the legal team of the Office of the President that revised and refined the Draft so that it would sail smoothly through the Congress.

Let us take a look at what the AHCBLL or the Senate Committee or individual members of the Congress say about these provisions to understand the slap and the insult.

I. On the Bangsamoro Police:

The Philippine Star, in its latest report (April 22, 2015: House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP), said the AHCBBl “will put police forces in the envisioned new autonomous Muslim region under the Philippine National Police (PNP), and not under the regional chief minister”. This refers to Section 8 of Article XI of the Draft on “Public Order and Safety”.

The report quoted AHCBBL chair Rep. Rufus Rodriguez: “We will delete the provision in the draft BBL giving the chief minister operational, administrative and disciplinary control over police forces in the region. We will have to follow the PNP Law, which puts all police units throughout the country under a single chain of command. There cannot be a different chain of command for the Bangsamoro region.” (Bold italics ours)

What is the PNP law?

Rodriguez and Rep/ Celso Lobregat said: The National Police Commission (Napolcom) and the PNP have operational and administrative authority over police forces. The law allows the Napolcom and PNP to delegate such authority to city and town mayors. (Bold italics ours)

Lobregat reasoned: If the draft BBL were kept intact, such power would be taken away from mayors and given to the Bangsamoro region’s chief minister.

Compare Draft BBL and RA 9054

What does Section 8 provide? How does this section compare with Section 8 Article XIII on “Public Order and Security” of RA 9054 of the ARMM – in parentheses, bold italics]?

Section 8. Powers of the Chief Minister Over the Bangsamoro Police. – The Chief Minister shall have the following powers over the Bangsamoro Police: [SEC. 8. Power of Regional Governor Over Regional Police Force. — The Regional Governor shall have the following powers over the Regional Police Force:]

  1. To act as deputy of the National Police Commission in the Bangsamoro and as ex officio chair of the Bangsamoro Police Board; [(a) To act as the deputy of the National Police Commission in the region and as the ex-officio chair of the Regional Police Commission;]
  2. To select the head of the Bangsamoro Police and his deputies; [(d) To recommend to the President the appointment of the regional director and his two deputies;]
  3. To exercise operational control and supervision and disciplinary powers over the Bangsamoro Police; (Bold ours) [(b)To exercise operational control and general supervision and disciplinary powers over the Regional Police Force;]
  4. To employ or deploy the elements of and assign or reassign the Bangsamoro Police through the Bangsamoro Police Director. The Bangsamoro Police Director shall not countermand the order of the Chief Minister unless it is in violation of the law; [(c) To employ or deploy the elements of and assign or reassign the Regional Police Force through the regional director. The Regional Director may not countermand the order of the Regional Governor unless it is in violation of the Constitution and the law;]
  5. To oversee the preparation and implementation of the Integrated Bangsamoro Public Safety Plan; [(e) To oversee the preparation and implementation of the Integrated Regional Public Safety Plan;]
  6. To impose, after due notice and summary hearings of the of the citizen’s complaints, administrative penalties on personnel of the Bangsamoro Police except those appointed by the President; and [(f) To impose, after due notice and summary hearings of the citizen’s complaints, administrative penalties on personnel of the Regional Police Force except those who are appointed by the President; and]
  7. Do everything necessary to promote widespread support for the Bangsamoro Police by residents of the Bangsamoro. [(g) Do everything necessary to promote widespread support by the various communities making up the autonomous region for the Regional Police Force.]

The seven powers granted to the ARMM Regional Governor by RA 9050 [in bold italics] are the same as the seven powers proposed in Draft BBL for the Chief Minister. Changes of terms like “Regional Governor” to “Chief Minister” do not alter the sameness in the contents of the provisions.

Is this Draft BBL provision unconstitutional while its exact counter-provision in RA 9054 is not? What does the 1987 Constitution provide?

Compare Draft BBL and 1987 Constitution

Section 6 of Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution on “General Provisions” states: “The state shall establish and maintain one police force, which shall be national in scope and civilian in character, to be administered and controlled by a national police commission. The authority of local executives over the police units in their jurisdiction shall be provided by law.” (Bold italics ours)

Has Article XI of Draft BBL violated this?

Section 2 on “Bangsamoro Police” states: (Par. 1) “There is hereby created a Bangsamoro Police which shall be organized, maintained, supervised, and utilized for the primary purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro. It shall be part of the Philippine National Police.” (Bold italics ours)

Does the specification of the “primary purpose” violate the 1987 Constitution? Should this not be construed as relevant to the autonomy of Bangsamoro?

(Par. 2) “The Bangsamoro Police shall be professional, civilian in character, regional in scope, effective and efficient in law enforcement, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control, and accountable under the law for its actions. It shall be responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government, and to the communities it serves.” (Bold italics ours)

Does “regional in scope” violate the 1987 Constitution despite the avowal, “It shall be part of the Philippine National Police” and “It shall be responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government …”? Again, should this not be granted as relevant to Bangsamoro autonomy?

But RA 9054, Art. XIII, Sec. 7(b) also states The scope of its operations shall be regional.” The difference: “Sec 7(b) states “The Regional Police Force, its units or personnel may be deployed elsewhere in the Republic …” while “Section 2(Par. 1) specifies “… utilized for the primary purpose of law enforcement …in the Bangsamoro”.

Is this difference very material to the constitutionality or legality of the provisions on the Bangsamoro Police? (To Be Continued)

(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 patponcediaz@yahoo.com.)

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