DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /29 July) — The signing of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) is defective but corrective measures can be undertaken, including making President Rodrigo Duterte sign it again, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel and law professor Antonio La Viña said.
Duterte, who was reported to have signed it into law on July 27, has to sign anew because what he signed is not valid as it did not bear the signature of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
According to the legislative process of the Philippine Congress, bills transmitted to the President for his approval must be “signed by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and certified by both the Secretary of the Senate and the Secretary General of the House.”
If the bill is approved the President, “the same is assigned an RA number and transmitted to the House where it originated,” after which it is reproduced and copies sent to the Official Gazette “for publication and distribution to the implementing agencies.”
What Duterte signed as RA 11054 on July 27, copies of which were distributed by Malacanang to the national media, bears no signature of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It has the signatures of Senate President Tito Sotto, Senate Secretary Myra Marie D. Villarica and House Secretary-General Cesar Strait Pareja, and the President.
“It is possible to have the omission corrected administratively,” Pimentel told MindaNews late Saturday night, adding, “and maybe, ma-sanction ang mga tawong nag forward sa defectuoso nga bill” (those who forwarded the defective bill should be sanctioned).
“Di man problema nga dili masulbad kay dali ra man magpakopya karon sa mga dokumento. Ug pila ra gud ug bawion sa office nila Medialdea ang mga kopya nga wala mapirmahe sa ubang opisyal. (It’s not a problem that cannot be solved because it is easy to reproduce copies of documents these days. And the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea can easily recall the copies not signed by other officials).
“Replace them with properly signed ones. It’s not a fatal mistake that cannot be corrected by authorities concerned,” he said.
“What a disservice,” La Viña said of the treatment of a historic legislation.
“The copy signed by Speaker and Senate President is called the enrolled bill. It’s the only official copy of the law,” he told MindaNews Saturday night.
“So how to correct this?” MindaNews asked La Viña. His reply: “Start all over again in my view. Otherwise there is no official copy.”
The President, he said, “can just re-sign.”
“A new copy has to be generated… one without signatures” and signed by Arroyo, Sotto, etc.. before the President signs, said La Viña, who served in the government peace panel in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from January to June 2010 following the aborted signing of the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in 2008.
The signing of the Bangsamoro law triggered confusion after President Duterte on Thursday claimed he had signed the law in his speeches in Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay and in Zamboanga City. But his Spokesperson, Harry Roque, and Special Assistant, Christopher Lawrence Go said he had not. Later in the evening, Roque said the President had signed it “as of 7:12 p.m” but could not say where. MindaNews asked if he signed it in Zamboanga Sibugay or Zamboanga City. Roque replied, “I believe so.”
As it turned out, Duterte signed the law on Friday, July 27, disproving his claim on Thursday that he had signed it, and Roque’s claim the law had been signed “as of 7:12 p.m.” that day.
Duterte, the country’s first Mindanawon President was supposed to have signed the OLBARMM into law on July 23, on his third SONA, but only the Senate managed to ratify the bill consolidated and finalized by the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Proposed Bangsamoro Basic law. The House of Representatives failed to do so on Monday due to a leadership row but did so on Tuesday.
The President vowed during his SONA that he would sign it “within 48 hours” from the time his office receives a copy. Maguindanao Representative and Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Bai Sandra Sema, said the Office of the President received a copy at 7:30 p.m. on July 25. Sema posted on her Facebook page shortly after 5 p.m. on July 27 a copy of the last page of RA 11054 showing the date of approval on July 27 and bearing Duterte’s signature without Arroyo’s.
Where he signed it on Friday is not clear. Duterte flew back to Davao City Thursday evening from his Zamboanga visits and flew to Jolo, Sulu late Friday afternoon to visit fire survivors and soldiers wounded in action and from there flew back to his home city of Davao.
The OLBARMM, formerly Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and now referred to by others as Bangsamoro Organic Law or BOL, is supposed to be the enabling law of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that government and the MILF signed on March 27, 2014 after 17 years of peace negotiations.
The Bangsamoro law paves the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 28-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The two houses of Congress named the new entity as Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The MILF is holding on Sunday a “Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly on BBL” in the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao.
An invitation to the assembly says members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and Political Committees will be coming from all over Mindanao. “Around 50 thousand participants are expected to attend,” it said.(Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)