DAVAO CITY – Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “is not easily sailing in Congress” due to contentious and constitutional issues that lawmakers need to examine and look into.
Speaking before the members of the media at the Grand Menseng Hotel on Tuesday, Guingona said BBL is not an ordinary law compared to those which lawmakers submit to plenary for enactment.
“The BBL is a different kind of law that was drafted by the executive branch of government as a result of the peace agreement it entered into with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)”, Guingona said.
Due to constitutional concerns, Guingona said congress is presently into the “process of cleaning out” on vital issues that might spur questions on its constitutionality in the Supreme Court (SC).
Guingona raised concerns of the BBL being likened to the fate of the MOA-AD or the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that was finalized under the Arroyo administration but was declared unconstitutional by the SC.
“Aside from the congress, the hardest part that the BBL would go through is when this will be brought to the SC on constitutional issues. If we will not be careful right now, BBL will suffer the same fate with the MOA-AD”, he said.
Guingona cited the case in North Cotabato where there will be barangays that would be asked in a plebiscite if their constituents are willing to include their barangay in the Bangsamoro.
“This would be an awkward situation” Guingona said, explaining that a barangay decides to join the Bangsamoro but is physically situated within a territorial jurisdiction of a municipality and a province which is outside of the Bangsamoro.
Guingona was referring to the 39 barangays in the towns of Carmen, Kabacan, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap in North Cotabato.
These barangays voted for the inclusion to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 2001 plebiscite.
The senator also told the media here that the BBL, particularly the “too much concessions” given by the national government has also unintentionally awakened the issue on federalism in Mindanao.
“BBL is a paradigm shift that will change the image of local governance in Mindanao”, Guingona said, adding that the Bangsamoro is likened to federalism.
The concessions, such as the 75-25 sharing scheme on natural resources and minerals should also be given to the other residents in the area.
“The 75-25 sharing of the natural resources, where the bigger share goes to the Bangsamoro is game-changing,” Guingona said.
If the government could ensure such sharing system to the Bangsamoro then this can also be granted to the three-fourths of Mindanao population which is dominated by the Christian settlers and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), he said.
“If this is OK for them why not to us? There is no basis why we should be treated differently, all must be equal,” Guingona pointed out.
Guingona said he will support the current calls for federalism and will campaign for the utilization of the island’s resources under the concept of the “Commonwealth of Mindanao”.
He added that he will sponsor a bill in the senate for the proposed federal state or the Commonwealth Mindanao early next year. (davaotoday.com)