Incumbent local execs to remain in posts under BBL

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Incumbent local officials under the Bangsamoro entity will not be removed from office under the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said yesterday.

Ferrer made the clarification before lawmakers in the final hearing and consultations of the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives tackling the proposed BBL.

“All local elected government officials will serve their full term until 2016, until the next election in 2016,” Ferrer said.

What will be abolished and replaced by the Bangsamoro entity would be the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“What will be abolished is the ARMM – which means the elected officials, the governor and the vice governor of the ARMM, and the regional legislative assembly – in order to give way to the Bangsamoro parliament and the executive office that will be created in the form of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said the BBL is not blind to the interests of local governments.

“If you look at the provisions, you’ll find that there are very specific provisions such as the principle of devolution and subsidiarity, and the council of leaders that can make for a cohesive and cooperative leadership at all levels,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said these provisions would solve the current disconnect between the ARMM regional government and the local government units.

She said the Council of Leaders will be made up of the chief minister, provincial governors, city mayors and sectoral representatives, and the subsidiarity refers to the exercise of power where it is most effectively exercised and is premised on mutual respect.

Ferrer said it was not the first time the panel engaged local government officials in the course of the peace process.

“If there is one lesson that we learned in the MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain) experience, it was that kind of a lack of engagement within government that precipitated the tragic turn of events in 2008,” Ferrer said.

“That is why when this new panel came in 2010 we made sure that we had very close coordination and engagement with the local government officials, whether as a group or individually,” Ferrer added.

The Supreme Court struck down the MOA-AD as unconstitutional, citing the lack of consultations with local officials in creating a new regional government under the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Ferrer said the concerns and interests of local government units are addressed in the BBL.

Local officials in Mindanao who attended the hearing expressed their support for the BBL.

“I’d like to express my support for the BBL. I hope the legislative process is fast-tracked, because we all know that our government has been in conflict with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the MILF and other groups in Southern Mindanao for more than 40 years now,” Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said.

For his part, Basilan Gov. Jum Jainudin Akbar supported the BBL, saying his constituents are “happy and hopeful that lasting peace can be finally achieved.”

Akbar emphasized the need to educate the public on the BBL.

“I hope we properly communicate the BBL to (the people), so they can understand it. Then we won’t have any problems with the BBL. We are hoping for peace in Basilan,” Akbar said.

Tawi-Tawi Gov. Nurbert Sahali also noted the wide public support for the BBL and the peace process among his constituents.

“Whatever objectives the national government has with regard to the peace process in our region, we in the local government unit of Tawi-Tawi support it,” Sahali said.

Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan also expressed his support for the BBL, while urging Congress to improve and fine-tune the draft, particularly on provisions that might be challenged on grounds of unconstitutionality.

“We are not against the BBL. We have our concerns about certain provisions of the BBL…I hope all of our proposals will be considered,” Tan said.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also expressed its support for the BBL.

CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said on Thursday “we want to grant self-determination and autonomy to our Bangsamoro.”













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