Alvarez, who is the choice for speaker of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, yesterday said the BBL would be subsumed by the planned shift to the federal form of government that the Duterte administration would prioritize.
Philstar.com file
No BBL: Next Congress to focus on federalism
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The incoming 17th Congress will not tackle the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which outgoing lawmakers have tried but failed to pass, according to Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Alvarez, who is the choice for speaker of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, yesterday said the BBL would be subsumed by the planned shift to the federal form of government that the Duterte administration would prioritize.

He said the BBL would give way to federalism “because they are the same concept.”

“While waiting for federalism, the Duterte administration can fully implement the Tripoli Agreement,” he said.

The Tripoli accord led to the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Alvarez said ARMM would function better and prosper under a federal system.

“They can manage their own natural resources and economy,” he said.

The draft BBL is the product of peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Alvarez accused the Aquino administration of “taking the MILF for a ride” because it agreed to certain provisions in the draft BBL that “were unconstitutional.”

The bloody encounter in January 2015 between commandos of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force and Muslim guerillas mostly belonging to the MILF stalled congressional consideration of the proposed BBL.

However, the MILF has blamed Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who chairs the Senate committee on local government, for the failure of Congress to pass the measure.

The MILF claimed that Marcos did not have the time for the draft BBL in the latter part of 2015, as he was already busy preparing for his vice presidential run. Marcos denies the accusation, tossing the blame to the administration and its allies in the House of Representatives.

Reached for comment on Alvarez’s statement that the draft BBL would be shelved, reelected ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said it does not augur well for peace in Mindanao.

“It sends the wrong message to the MILF and those of us who want to resolve the decades-old conflict in Mindanao so that peace and development could finally be attained,” he said.

He said party-list group Anak Mindanao, which his wife heads and which has won two seats in the House, will re-file the proposed BBL at the start of the term of the next Congress.

Hataman also foresees a problem with ARMM under a federal system if regions or states would be entirely autonomous and would be required to generate their own finances.

He said the Muslim region would receive this year about P30 billion in subsidy from the national government.

“The annual income of ARMM is very much less than that. If ARMM will not get subsidy from the central government, it will become poorer. The same will be true with other poor and underdeveloped regions,” he stressed.

In a related development, senator-elect Sherwin Gatchalian urged the incoming administration to study federalism “holistically to be able to come up with the best form.”

Like Hataman, the neophyte senator said a wrong approach would make rich areas richer and poor areas poorer because of uneven income distribution.

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with