Rep. Rodriguez says support for Bangsamoro Basic Law is “universal”

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/30 Nov) — Despite some concerns, the proposed Bangsamoro Law is receiving overwhelming support  from residents  in Northern Mindanao, the chair of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law said.

“I saw the universal support for the proposed Bangsamoro law. It is undeniable,” Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, (2nd district, Cagayan  de Oro City) told MindaNews .

Rodriguez said he got a sense of the sentiments after a round of public hearings in the cities of Marawi, Iligan, and Cagayan de Oro; and in Tubod, Lanao del Norte last week from November 27 to 29.

Rodriguez said he no longer sees any major problem arising from sectors questioning the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Law.

He said despite manifestation from those who oppose the law, he saw only several issues that they would have to fix before submitting their final draft to the Senate by January next year.

The major issue they have to resolve, according to Rodriguez, is the question of inclusion of some towns and barangays into the new Bangsamoro region through a plebiscite.

He said they have to study the issues raised by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat and former Iligan Mayor Lawrence Cruz that the Constitution does not allow any province, city, town or barangay to be divided, merged with or its boundaries altered without conforming with the requirements provided for under the Local Government Code of 1991.

The core territory of the proposed Bangsamoro includes the five-province, two-city Autonomou Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato that voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite.

The six towns are Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar , Tagoloan and Tangkal town.

Also in question are some barangays in Iligan City: and in the towns of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigcawayan, Pikit and Midsayap in North Cotabato province.

“I find this ironic because most of these areas are dominated by Muslims,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said his committee will conduct ten more public hearings before they would meet in plenary session.

The scheduled public hearings are Baguio and Laoag cities on Dec. 5; Buluan, Maguindanao and Koronadal, Dec. 10; Davao City, Dec. 11; Kabacan and Midsayap towns in North Cotabato, Dec. 12; Butuan City, Dec. 13; and Cebu and Iloilo cities on Dec. 15.

In mid-November, Rodriguez told MindaNews that the public hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law “will be the most comprehensive and inclusive consultations in the history of the House of Representatives.”

Rodriguez added that the Ad Hoc Commitee “will then deliberate on the bill when we resume session on January 19.”

Plenary debates are “expected starting Feb 2 and approval by end of February,” Rodriguez said.

Congress takes a break from December 20 to January 18, 2015, will resume sessions from January 19 to March 20 and will go on break again from March 21 to May 3. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)