Celso’s abstention PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 June 2018 11:31

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

Voting NO simply means that one explicitly does not agree to a proposal or idea. It is a definite and unequivocal answer. So when Congressman Mannix Dalipe voted NO to the passage of the impending BBL for reason that it is unconstitutional, it is an absolute and unconditional stand against its passage and eventual enactment. No problem about this. If his intention is to protect the territory and interest of our city, then well and good. But he presented no further argument other than its unconstitutionality.

Congressman Celso Lobregat’s abstention to the impending bill, however, has raised many eyebrows and has elicited so many nasty and malicious comments from several close political observers, especially from his political opponents in this coming mid-term election. Without advancing any valid reason, they bashed him saying that his ambivalent stand is self-serving and has something to do with his move to retain his Chairmanship of a powerful congressional committee which promises lots of moolah for infra projects.

We have known Congressman Celso’s concern for our city when he campaigned against the inclusion of our city to the ARMM in the last two referendums conducted. Then Congressman Erbie Fabian also did the same when he filed in the Supreme Court a similar petition questioning the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral domain (MOA-AD) crafted under the Arroyo Administration. Their efforts are the reasons why our city has never been included to the ARMM despite all the manipulations exerted through the direction and assistance of the national government.

This time around, why did Congressman Lobregat abstain for the approval of the BBL House Bill? I find his reason very satisfactory.

He explained that he is satisfied with some of the questionable and unacceptable provisions thereto like “no more creeping expansion which means that only one (1) plebiscite will be held upon its ratification and not six (6) as previously proposed; those properties located in our city which is out of the ARMM area of jurisdiction, like the Cabatangan property will be sold to the city instead of being transferred back to the ARMM; the 10% barangay petitions to join the Bangsamoro was amended and requires the majority consent of the city. He says that many other issues have already been addressed but issues like the SPDA and Areas of Joint-Cooperation will still have to be settled in the Bi-cameral Conference Committee (BI-CAM). “Had I not abstained, I would not be a member of the Bi-Cam and I can guard and protect the provisions already amended and I can continue to push and propose amendments on the provisions such as the SPDA properties and Areas of Joint Cooperation,” he said.

Wanting to protect and safeguard the interest of Zamboabga City and help in the administration’s cherished mission to bring peace and unity in Mindanao, nobody can accused Congressman Celso Lobregat’s stand to participate in fine tuning a propose bill, to become more compliant in order to pass the constitutionality test when it is signed into law by President Duterte and which is expected to be questioned in the Supreme Court by the Yellow Army and the Makabayan Bloc.

Congressman Lobregat wanted to play the “goal keeper” at the Bi-cam where amendments can be discreetly and quietly proposed and approved if left unguarded. It is here where conflicting provisions are reconciled. Sample of the conflicting provisions  to be amended in the bill is the provision that all those residing in the Bangsamoro region  are citizens of the Philippines—a requirement to make it constitutional; the House proposed 25% share for the national government and 75% for the Bangsamoro to the share of taxes collected which the Senate wants it to be 50-50 percent sharing; reconciling the provision against political dynasty; the procurement of firearms, ammunitions, and explosives in the annual appropriations law which is not provided for in the House version; on the appointment of the PNP Regional Director by the DILG; and the inclusion of the Province of Palawan in the list of areas considered as historically part of  Bangsamoro territory. Many of our Muslim leaders and Mindanao politicians are saying that our city is also historically part of the Bangsamoro. Obviously, they are very much interested in including our city to their area of jurisdiction for reasons everybody knows. But nobody knows what will happen if some disadvantageous provisions to our city’s interest and welfare will be proposed, amended, and approved by the Bi-Cam if we don’t have a “goal keeper” closely minding and guarding this very important task.

No, these people who are bashing Congressman Celso are not ignorant of the proposed BBL. They simply refuse to understand and acknowledge your chivalrous resolve in protecting and safeguarding the interest and welfare of the city. This early, your political opponents are already politicking and are out to destroy you. These people have not done anything good and significant to the city. The irritated and exasperated denizens of the city are gnashing their teeth, waiting for the right time to kick out these noisy, non-performing elected officials.