Malacañang loses hope that BBL can be passed before Congress adjourns

PASAY CITY (MindaNews / 10 June) – Malacañang lost all hope on Tuesday that Congress will still be able to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before it adjourns on June11.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Malacañang is setting a new target for the BBL to be enacted when Congress reconvenes in July after the State-of-the Nation-Address by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in July.

Coloma said Malacañang is respecting and welcomed the decision of the leaders of Congress to continue working on the BBL beyond the current session because it provides a period of continuing dialogue.

“Through continuing dialogue, differing viewpoints maybe harmonized in crafting the law that, we hope, may be enacted shortly after Congress reconvenes in July,” Coloma said in a statement.

The Senate public hearings for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law ended on Tuesday with Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who chairs the committee on local government deliberating on the draft BBL, hinting the proposed bill he is drafting could be presented to the plenary by August.

At the House of the Representatives, the plenary session on the draft BBL is plagued by lack of quorum despite assurances from Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd Dist., Cagayan de Oro) that they can enact the measure before June 11.

Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee, is the principal sponsor of the proposed bill now known as “The Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

Marcos ended the public hearing Tuesday after the testimonies from government revenue officials and resource speakers on taxation and Lake Lanao, the second largest lake in the country.

Marcos took time to grill government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer on the proposed fiscal body that would be created by the draft BBL.

“I would like to clarify what, how and what is the process within the intergovernment Fiscal Policy Board,” Marcos said.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and the Department of Finance asked the Senate to amend some wordings in the draft BBL that cover tax incentives, taxing powers, assessment and collection of taxes, contracts and obligations, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), shares of local government units, and share of indigenous communities.

Drieza Liningding, of the Bangsamoro National Movement on Peace and Development, also weighed in on Lake Lanao telling the Senate Committee to be careful on the issue because of the presence of vested interest groups from the power industry.

“Everyone from the power sector, including the government, wants to control Lake Lanao because of its potential profits,” Liningding said.

Marcos said one option he is thinking when he will be crafting a new BBL draft is by simply amending the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“I think there are systemic weaknesses in the ARMM system. So what do we do? We fix it. There is no need to throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say. We look at the system, see where the failings are, the weaknesses are, and fix those,” Marcos said.

“We have amended already the organic law of ARMM once. That was a step in the right direction. So let’s make more steps in the right direction,” he added.