House sets BBL public hearings on Feb. 8 to March 9 in 11 Mindanao areas

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 February) — The House Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity will be conducting public hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in 11 Mindanao areas every week from February 8 to March 9.

Committee members will be presenting to the public their proposed Bangsamoro law, consolidated from four bills filed in the House, including the draft of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The House sub-committee on the BBL has adopted the title “Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” (BAR) instead of the BTC’s proposed “Bangsamoro.”

The joint committees on local government, Muslim Affairs and special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity chaired by Reps. Pedro Acharon, Jr., Mauyag Papandayan, Jr. and Ruby Sahali, respectively, accepted the subcommittee report that consolidated four measures seeking the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The joint committees will use the subcommittee report as the working draft in coming up with a substitute BBL bill. The joint panel also adopted the Internal Rules of Procedure of the Joint Committees and the proposed schedule of committee meetings and public consultations on the BBL. Photos courtesy of congress.gov.ph

Hearings will be held in Cotabato City on February 8, in Midsayap, North Octabato on February 9 and in Davao City on February 10. The following week, the Commitee will go to Tubod, Lanao del Norte on February 15 and Marawi/Iligan on February 16.

On the third week, the venue will be in Sulu on February 22 and in Basilan on February 23.

On March 1, the hearing will be in Tawi-tawi; March 2 in Zamboanga City; March 8 in Buluan, Maguindanao and March 9 in Korondal City, South Cotabato.

The Senate Committee on Local Government, which held public hearings in Cotabato City and Marawi City on January 25 and 26, will conduct hearings in Jolo, Sulu morning of February 8 and Bongao, Tawi-tawi in the afternoon. The public hearing and consultation for Zamboanga City and Zamboanga provinces will be held in the afternoon of February 9.

The Senate Committee has set February 13 and 14 for the Technical Working Group to finalize the Committee report which should be ready for the signature of members and filing of Committee report by February 20.

The Senate has scheduled February 20 to March 19 for plenary debates, and on March 20, “Senate approval on second and third reading (if certified by the President),” the scheduled posted by the BTC said.

The House of Representatives is eyeing the passage of the BBL on March 21.

Last Monday, Deputy Speaker and Cebu Third District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia and Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo told the bi-monthly press briefing that they see no conflict in the BBL and Charter Change efforts of the House.

A press release posted on the website of the House of Representatives quoted Garcia as saying the subcommittee on BBL created by the Committees on Local Governments; Muslim Affairs; and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity had agreed to the creation of the BAR and will refer  to the mother committee the more contentious provisions such as “the scope of exclusive powers of the BAR government, the provision on inland waters, and the Bangsamoro Justice System.”

She said the sub-committee agreed to get the opinion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other uniformed services on the proposed law.

It will also seek inputs from the BTC “on certain provisions of the new BBL” but the press release did not say what these provisions are.

Dimaporo, author of House Bill 6263, one of the four Bangsamoro bills filed in the House, said the approval of the BBL and the shift to federalism were not inter-related.

“I don’t think they are interrelated. It doesn’t matter what comes first or what comes next. As far as Congress is concerned, this was a promise of the President to the Filipino people, to the Bangsamoro people…his promise to deliver the BBL. So therefore, Congress is working as hard as possible so that the President can deliver his promise,” he said.

The creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed on March 27, 2014.

Dimaporo said provisions in the BTC draft that may face questions on constitutionality, have been identified in the subcommittee level while the constitutionally-acceptable language is embedded in Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s HB 6121 and in HB 092 of Maguindanao Rep. and Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Bai Sandra Sema, which Dimaporo said is the “16th Congress version.”

“So more or less, at the top of my mind, we retained mga 50 percent of the BTC version. The remaining 50 percent, it’s either we adopt the GMA version or the 16th Congress version,” Dimaporo was quoted as saying.

The “BTC version” Dimpaoro was referring to is HB 6475 filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and at least 90 other representatives.

Arroyo’s bill is actually a resurrection of the substitute bill filed by then Senator Ferdinand Marcos, in lieu of the BTC draft then. Marcos was chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government under the Aquino administration. Congress adjourned in 2016 without passing the BBl.

The “16th Congress version” Dimaporo was referring to is Sema’s HB 092 or what was HB 4994, the “agreed version” of the government and MILF after the former proposed revisions to the BTC’s draft BBL.

But HB 02 or HB 4994 was actually not the “16th Congress version” because the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL filed HB 5811, as substitute bill.  The MILF found HB 5811 and Marcos’ substitute bill as unacceptable as they envisioned a Bangsamoro “less autonomous than the ARMM.”  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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