More concerns, suggestions raised in Senate BBL hearing in Zamboanga City

May 15, 2015 10:44 am 

By Jelly F. Musico

ZAMBOANGA City, May 14 (PNA) – More concerns and suggestions ranging from inadequate consultations among the important stakeholders to expression of support highlighted the last public hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Mindanao on Thursday.

During the five-hour public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Local Government in Zamboanga City, the group of Badjao and Iranun Sultanate claimed they have never been consulted on the BBL.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, joined by the whole city council, also called for the inclusive BBL.

”We call for a comprehensive peace pact that addresses all grievances and issues. It (BBL) should, likewise, be inclusive, not isolative, of all groups, peoples and stakeholders to act forward in espousing meaningful, lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao, and abhor armed conflicts,” Climaco said.

Climaco called on the government to continue to engage dialogues with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other armed groups.

The lady mayor, however, reiterated the city’s strong stand not to be included in the Bangsamoro “now or ever.”

Climaco expressed concerns that the booming fishing industry of Zamboanga City will be affected by the Bangsamoro government.

”The commercial fishing industry must have free access to deep sea fishing governed only by existing laws and regulations of the national government, not by the Bangsamoro,” she explained.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zamboanga (RCAZ) said it does not interpose any objection to the BBL “provided the proposed statute should conform” with the 1987 Constitution.

In its position paper, the Archdiocese of Zamboanga cited some BBL provisions that contradict and violate the Constitution, including the abolishing of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and creation of a new political entity called the Bangsamoro.

”Article 10, Sections 15 to 20 of the 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of the said ARMM. While it is true that Congress has the power to repeal laws, we should not forget that it is also a settled rule that Congress cannot amend or alter any provision of the Constitution,” Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz said.

The RCAZ also expressed concern that the BBL maybe considered as a class legislation which is in violation of the equal protection clause in the Constitution.

”Cursory reading on the preamble creates question of whether or not, the ‘Bangsamoro people’ connotes another class or Muslim people distinct from the Filipino people,” the RCAZ position paper stated.

The RCAZ also emphasized there is nothing in the Constitution that allows the creation of a Bangsamoro parliament.

It also opposed the opt-in provision wherein expansion of Bangsamoro territory will be allowed by a mere resolution of the local government unit or a petition of 10 percent of the registered voters.

The Southern Philippines Deep See Fishing Association Inc. (SOPHIL) has also expressed ‘grave concern and opposition’ with respect to the BBL provision regarding Bangsamoro waters and areas of joint cooperation affecting the fishing grounds of all commercial fishing companies.

Edwin To of Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. said the creation of the Bangsamoro would mean that they have to pay taxes both to the national and Bangsamoro governments.

Due to the lack of consultation claim, Senate Committee on Local Government chairman Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is contemplating of holding another separate hearing for the local government units (LGUs) and indigenous people or IPs.

The hearing is separate from two hearings scheduled for the MNLF and the Sultanates on May 18 and 25.

”These (lack of consultations) are the very shortcomings of the peace process,” Marcos said in a media interview after the hearing.

Marcos emphasized the importance of addressing first the contentious issues before thinking of the deadline for the passage of the BBL.

”This is very complex issue that need careful study. We’re not against the BBL. We just have to do what we believe is necessary so that we will pass a BBL that is constitutionally acceptable,” Marcos said.

Some groups have also expressed support for the passage of the BBL, with one group asking the Senate not to pass a water-down version of the law.

A group describing them as Sautol Haqq (The Voice of Hope) also submitted a resolution which urged Congress to pass the BBL “without diluting its provisions.”

The group said the constitutionality of the BBL should be left to the Supreme Court (SC).

Mohammaduuz ‘Nung’ Ajihil, member of Interfaith Council of Leaders, supports the passage of the BBL, commending President Benigno Aquino III for showing determination to push the peace process in Mindanao.

”We commend the effort of His Excellency, President Simeon Benigno Aquino III who have shown the determination of strong leadership pushing the GPH and MILF in approving the peace process,” Ajihil said.

Although she questioned the lack of consultation, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar has expressed support for the passage of the BBL which is “transparent and inclusive.”

”We thanked the Senate for giving us a chance to share our stand of the BBL. We support the BBL because we want lasting peace specially in Basilan,” Akbar, who had to leave early after receiving report of an encounter in her province, said. (PNA)

SCS/JFM

Comments

One Response to “More concerns, suggestions raised in Senate BBL hearing in Zamboanga City”

  1. Bien on May 16th, 2015 2:17 am

    BBL IS NOT THE SOLUTION FOR THE WAR IN MINDANAO ,IT WILL CREATE MORE TROUBLES THAN SOLUTIONS..THE GOVERNMENT MUST PROPERLY SECURE THE WELFARE AND THE PROTECTION OF THE PEOPLE NOT ONLY THE MUSLIM BUT EVERYBODY ,FIGHT FOR THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE THE PHILIPPINES NOT FOR A NOBEL PRIZE