BBL to ensure autonomy within Constitutional bounds — Solon PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 13 September 2014 11:57

Cagayan de Oro 2nd district representative Rufus Rodriguez defended the constitutional soundness of the recently submitted draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new parliamentary form of government.

“The provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law are consistent within the framework of our Constitution,” Rodriguez said, adding that the Preamble itself states that it is “in consonance with the Constitution and the universally accepted principles of human rights, liberty, justice, democracy, and the norms and standards of international law.”

“Credit where credit is due: The negotiating panels of the GPH and MILF exercised due care and diligence to make sure that the Bangsamoro bill serves the best interests of the people—and the entire nation as a whole,” he affirmed.

The draft measure, once enacted and ratified, will grant the Bangsamoro region enhanced autonomy with corresponding powers that will best serve the needs and concerns of its people. Rodriguez noted that the bill builds upon provisions that already allowed for the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“The parliamentary Bangsamoro government will gain its due share of refined powers, but it will remain subject to the authority of the central national government.”

Anak Mindanao Representative Sitti Dajlia-Hataman supported her fellow Mindanao lawmaker’s assertion, saying that the draft bill is clean from any questionable provisions, such as those that call for Constitutional amendments.

The solons further affirmed that the bill will be duly subjected to the legislative process—itself a guarantee that its final enactment will be bound by the charter. Beyond its passage, the basic law will be ratified through the conduct of a plebiscite.

“For our part, we will thoroughly review the draft bill in Congress in accordance to all stipulations of our supreme law,” guaranteed Rodriguez.

“We will make [the review of the BBL] a democratic process,” said Hataman. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we must debate properly to adequately review the provisions.”

Meanwhile, a member of the pool of independent lawyers—who observed the GPH-MILF negotiation panels during the parties’ August draft deliberation meetings in Davao City—commented that the submitted draft is the best measure to date to ensure and operationalize autonomy in the region concerned.

“By and large, it addresses the aspirations of the Bangsamoro and its people within the flexibilities of the Constitution,” Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic said. “There could not be a better deal under our unitary system of government.”

Learning experience

In light of the discussions on the matter of autonomy, Rodriguez recalled his experience of a relevant learning tour organized by the Spanish Embassy in Manila earlier this year.

In April 2014, Rodriguez joined a delegation of eight other congressmen and two senators in a study visit in Madrid that gave the legislators a first-hand view of Spain’s successful experience in creating 17 autonomous regions.

“Our Spain study visit, albeit brief, exposed us to a lot of successful models and best practices of which will serve as substantial reference to guide us in the deliberations of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Rodriguez said.

Likewise, Hataman noted that there are many crucial learning points that Congress can draw from the experience of the ARMM.