Zamboanga City Hall, a national historical shrine, used to be the official residence of the US military governor of the Moro Province. Paulo Alcazaren, file

Zamboanga City backs BBL but won't join Bangsamoro region
Roel Pareño (Philstar.com) - February 6, 2018 - 2:48pm
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Zamboanga City government has declared its support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law but also stressed that it does not want to be included in the proposed Bangsamoro region.
 
Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said Monday that the city remains steadfast in its support for the passage of the BBL that seeks to establish a region with more autonomy to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
 
Salazar issued the statement ahead of a public hearing on the BBL that the Senate will hold in the city on Friday.
 
"However, we are opposing the inclusion of the city or any of its 98 barangays and municipal waters in the BBL. We remain under one flag, one nation and one Republic of the Philippines supportive of President Duterte’s administration," Salazar, who made a similar statement during a public hearing in 2015, said.
 
Zamboanga City is not included in what is considered the Bangsamoro core territory.
 
Under the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro core territory comprises the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the 2001 plebiscite."
 
Cotabato City in Maguindanao and Isabela City in Basilan are also included in the core territory.
 
"We will translate [our opposition] in magnanimous terms because the Sangguniang Panlungsod had already passed the kind of resolution, and we are expecting the barangays as well as the FEBARKAZA (Federation of Barangay Kagawad Zamboanga Associations) to support this," Salazar added.
 
In July, Rep. Celso Lobregat questioned a provision that allows contiguous—or those that share a border with the core territory—areas that have a resolution from the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters may join the plebiscite that will be held to ratify the new territory.
 
"Again, that was a big issue in the last congress. What is contiguity? Is it by land, by air, by sea? Again, what is the issue? Is it local government unit down as far as the barangay? What if there is a barangay with 10 percent voters, are we going to include the barangay or the entire city for the plebiscite?" Lobregat said then.
 
Zamboanga City shares a border with Zamboanga del Norte, which is not included in the proposed territory and is across the Celebes Sea from Basilan. 

Police, military asked to monitor BBL supporters

City leaders also called on the police and military to monitor the alleged transport of BBL supporters from Central Mindanao to Zamboanga, supposedly in a bid to give the impression that the city wants to be included.
 
"It has been a strategy of those supporters to carry hoards of people from the region and bring into the unwilling area to generate impression," a local official said here.
 
The Senate Subcommittee on the BBL will visit Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga in a series of public hearings this week.
 
According to "Land: Territory, Domain, and Identity", a report by the World Bank and International Organization for Migration, succeeding waves of resettlement have "minoritized" Moros and indigenous peoples in Mindanao. 
 
Moros only made up 22.2 percent and IPs 13.4 percent of the population in Mindanao in 2010. Even in Moro provinces, Moros only make up 29.9 percent of the population while IPs make up 11.1 percent of the population.
 
These make it unlikely that areas outside the core territory will petition for inclusion.

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