Celso to Zambo folks, Don’t sleep on Bangsamoro issue PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 13:56

District 1 Congressman Celso Lobregat, yesterday indulged Zamboangueños not to limit their interest towards the controversial Bangsamoro framework agreement, as there are still a lot of provisions therein that would indirectly involve Zamboanga City and some other areas which opted to be excluded from such peace accord, jointly-signed by Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in late January this year.

Lobregat said this is in reply to some councilors’ earlier pronouncement that his addressing the City Council on bangsamoro issue is no longer needed, since all residents from the city’s 98 barangays have been one in excluding Zamboanga City from about to be crafted bangsamoro region.

“We should not limit ourselves to the belief that since Zamboanga City is already out of Bangsamoro, then everything stops there,” Lobregat said during his presentation in yesterday’s regular session, where he was earlier invited through a resolution, to brief the Council and the Zamboangueños on matters related to the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Speaking before a crowd of approximately 300 representing all local sectors, to include elected officials of Isabela City, Basilan Province, and on massive media coverage, Lobregat cited several provisions of BFA, which he deems violative of the Philippine Constitution.

At first, the solon reported that said agreement has 12 references, but ironically, “you cannot find any reference to the 1976 Tripoli agreement, a reference to our Constitution, including the 1996 final peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)”.

Lobregat said, unlike the 1976 Tripoli agreement and the 1996 GPH-MNLF peace agreement, “there is no single provision in the Bangsamoro framework agreement that ever refers to our constitution”.

One of the 1st district congressman’s apprehensions is the government’s recognition of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed forces (BIAF), which is an implied status of belligerency for MILF members, meaning, they cannot be arrested for carrying firearms until the agreement has been fully-implemented.

Lobregat also cited another disturbing provision in the same agreement, which grants bangsamoro the power to regulate electricity generation, and “exclusive powers over inland waters like the Lanao lake, where a big number of cities and provinces derive their hydro-electric services”.

“If this happens, it will not only be the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that would have authority to regulate power rates, but also another one, which is the bangsamoro government”, Lobregat explained.

At the same time, the district 1 solon went through explaining about other confusing situations that the non-bangsamoro areas are likely to experience, ranging from a projected non-level playing field for fishing industry, fishing within Bangsamoro waters, up to the acquisition of properties owned by Bangsamoro, but located within a non-member city like Zamboanga.

“Because of this particular provision, Zamboanga City will lose its right to purchase ARMM properties in barangay Cabatangan”, he said.

Meanwhile, Lobregat admitted, that without being noisy on some questionable provisions of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, other congressmen would not know about the repercussion it would cause for non-member cities and provinces.

“If you look at the numbers in congress, the ones who will finally approve this law are congressmen from Luzon, Visayas, and from other areas in the country, so it is just but proper for us to caution and let these people know about the later effects of such a legislation to us,” the congressman added.

Lobregat’s one-hour presentation was lauded by the audience, who said they have been clarified by the solon’s well-expounded explanations on BFA provisions, which are hardly heard from concerned parties, like the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), GPH, and the MILF.

However, heated debates on the rules for question and answer segment, initially set by Iturralde began to surface.

Councilor Cesar Jimenez Jr. requested the presiding officer to revise his rules of allowing question and answer through ranking and by district, citing no such thing ever exists in their present house rules, to which Iturralde did not accede to.

The atmosphere became more tensed when Councilor Charlie Mariano proposed to allow audience to throw in questions by speaking on the podium, a move vehemently objected by Councilor Juan Climaco Elago, followed by Councilor Melchor Ray Sadain.

Among Lobregat’s political nemesis, only Councilor Kim Elago got to interpolate with the solon, on a highly-courteous and informative manner.

The rest of the opposition councilors preferred to stay silent, yet, attentive to the entire discussion.

In the end, Councilor Mariano proposed a resolution, expressing the City Council’s strong support for Lobregat’s presentation, seeking for such presentation to form part of Zamboanga City’s official position towards the Bangsamoro issue, wherein copies of such resolution will be sent to both House of Representatives and the Senate. — Philip Abuy