PEACETALK:  On Power Sharing in the amended versions of the BBL

COTABATO CITY (MindNews / 23 June) — One of the many structural defects of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the lack of “delineation” of the powers and functions between the Central Government and the ARMM.

Simply put, there is no clear cut distinction and boundary as to what powers and functions may be performed by the ARMM without the interference of the Central Government. This is so because all the powers and the functions that may be performed by the ARMM are all subject to national laws, rules and regulation; or even worse, some of the supposed powers and functions of the ARMM have been taken over by the Central Government.

A lot pf problems and dysfunction in the ARMM have been spewed by this lack of delineation and unclear lines of accountability. To cite a few, while the 4Ps program is being implemented in the ARMM, it is important to know that the targeting and identification of the program beneficiaries was actually undertaken by the national government through its Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12, and not the DSWD-ARMM. Hence, that pestering problem of mayors’ wives, policemen’s wives or teachers being listed as 4Ps beneficiaries in the ARMM was a problem created not by the ARMM.

Similarly, if you are traveling the Davao to Cotabato route and you’re awakened in your deep slumber because of the bumpy road when you enter the Pagalungan-Pagagawan-Pikit section of the road and you begin cursing the ARMM, you should know that this section of the road is being maintained by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region 12 and and not the DPWH-ARMM even if this road section is in the territory of the ARMM. Or you would also be surprised that the protection of Lake Lanao watershed area is with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 10 and not DENR- ARMM.

These structural defects are among the many problems that the BBL intended to address through the “power sharing” arrangement that clearly defines the powers and functions of the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government through the listing of reserved, concurrent and exclusive powers.

More importantly, the listing of powers also would clearly establish the lines of accountability between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government such that if the delivery of a particular social service is with the Bangsamoro Government and no longer with the Central Government, you may now clearly establish the guilty party, and hopefully your curse (sinta) may now be directed clearly to the guilty party. Basi makaiay tanu den sa mapayag a embetu e tiyan nin.In fine, the blame game currently practiced in the ARMM between the ARMM and the national government would be ended. BBL then would stand for Bye Bye Lagi sa blame game.

The Drilon and House of Representatives (HOR) amendments, however, of the BBL have rendered this dream impossible to achieve in the current amended versions of the BBL.

The Drilon amendment in the Senate has completely done away with the listing of powers and reverted to that problematic unclear delineation of power in the ARMM. The House moved important exclusive powers such as education and health into the concurrent powers and therefore blurred the lines of accountability again on this important area of service delivery. Hence, in the amended versions of the BBL in the Senate and in the House, the blame game is back. BBL, Balik Balik Lagi ang problema. [MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo is co-convenor of the Bangsamoro Study Group. He was Executive Secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from December 2009 to December 2011 and participated in the GPH-MNLF and GPH-MILF peace processes. Sinarimbo posted this on his FB page on June 20. Permission to publish granted to MindaNews]