Who wants the BBL? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 June 2018 11:59

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

 

I have been asking this question to residents of this city, and those coming from the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. And their answers were: “Not us the Zamboangueños; not us the Basileños; not us the Suluanos; and not us the Tawi-Tawians.”Their answers are surprising. All the while I surmise that the BBL is already a sure, done deal just awaiting the ratification of the people living within its area of jurisdiction.

But those whom I asked said that this BBL is merely just changing the collar of the dog—ARMM. They revealed that not only the residents of a particular province are against it but also their elected officials who are just pretending to support it in order not to infuriate President Duterte thereby preserving and maintaining their elected their positions and interests. They opined that a new BBL will not bring any change that promises to solve their myriad of problems.

As per their experience with the ARMM, only those who were elected and occupying positions in the government became multi-millionaires but the people under their AOR has remained poor. Many multi-million government projects were substandard and remained unfinished with their respective budget already totally depleted. Multimillion cash advances remained unliquidated; the GSIS remittances of the ordinary rank-and-file-government employees, especially the public school teachers, were not remitted and their monthly salaries are not paid on time and delayed for several months. To solve this problem, they accordingly have to travel to Cotabato City and spend money, time, and efforts just to follow up this simple matter. No wonder it is one of the poorest region in the country and the lowest in literacy rate.

They say that the Bangsamoro Law prepared by the Lower House is even worse. It contained so many questionable and unconstitutional provisions, e.g. the division of taxes collected, the citizenship of those in the BBL area which the Senate said must expressly state that they are citizens of the country; the appointment of the PNP Chief and the purchase of arms and ammunitions.

Our Congressman Celso Lobregat declared that many provisions thereat were already corrected to protect the interest of our city which is being continuously identified and wooed to be the capital of the new Bangsamoro. Such statement is premature. Unless the BBL Bill of the House of Representatives will be reconciled with the Senate version to make it compliant and appear constitutional and the interests of Zamboanga City are indeed preserved and finally signed into law by President Duterte, then and only then we can agree to his premature statement. Undoubtedly, the bill is yet to be amended and cured of its legal infirmities by the Bi-Cam Committee of Congress.

And it is here where Congressman Celso Lobregat’s presence to guard the interest of our city is extremely necessary, the reason why he abstained from approving the House bill. On this aspect, he deserves our full support and prayers to perform this crucial job because it is here where insertions, amendments, and revisions are made and in an instance if one is not on guard, things will turn out to be different.

Some quarters bashed Congressman Celso Lobregat’s abstention as an insult to the intelligence of the Zamboangueños and an act of abandonment of the interest of the city. His duty is not yet finished. There are still so many things that have to be ironed out in the Bi-Cam Committee. He abstained not merely because in so doing, he’ll become a member of the Bi-cam. Where did they get this convoluted and highly irrational logic? One abstains because some matters are not yet finished and one has to be fully sure that the same will end up to his and the city’s expectations. Abstention may be YES or NO. It is not final. Knowing how he fought to protect and preserve the interests of our city during the ARMM inclusion days, his abstention is undeniably correct pending the result of the Bi-Cam dialogues. How can this be construed as an insult to our intelligence and an abandonment of our city’s interests?

By the way, the investigation of the highly anomalous, graft ridden housing projects for the survivors of the Zamboanga siege; the unfinished projects of the city, the worsening traffic problems, and the unsanitary conditions of the city seemed to have been forgotten and placed in the back burner after the ruling Yellow Coalition bashed Congressman Celso Lobregat of his abstention of the BBL. Nice cover-up? No. No amount of black political propaganda can cover up and camouflaged this enormous incompetence of our city administration.

MISCELLANEOUS: Here’s wishing my brother in the Craft, Dr. Antonio “Bonjing” Feliciano a very Happy Birthday. See you all at Lodge 310.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2018 13:39