Beng slams inclusion of Tripoli pact provision in new BBl draft PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 June 2015 09:10

By VIC LARATO

Mayor Beng Climaco strongly dissented before the Senate on Wednesday against a new provision in the watered down draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which, she claimed, was similar to that of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

In a three-page statement she read before the Senate hearing on the proposed BBL, where she reiterated for the nth time Zamboanga City’s stand against any attempt to include the city in the Bangsamoro entity,  Climaco bewailed the insertion of Section 4, Article XIV (Plebiscite) in the amended version of House Bill 4994 as approved by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL.

The provision reads “Any local government unit or geographical area outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, but which are contiguous to any of the component units of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and within the area of autonomy identified in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement may opt to be part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region…”

“This provision is totally unacceptable to the City of Zamboanga,” Climaco protested, stressing that under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement 13 provinces were identified, including all the cities and villages in these areas, the City of Zamboanga included.

“We are both saddened an appalled by the draft amended version of HB 4994… Dozens and dozens of public hearings were conducted in Mindanao purportedly to listen to the various and divergent views of the stakeholders. Millions of taxpayers’ money were spent. But while hearings were conducted, it appears that these were not listened to,” Climaco lamented.

She further decried that the people of Zamboanga were made to believe that the city shall be totally out of the Bangsamoro entity.

According to her, no less than Rep. Ruffus Rodriguez, chair of the House Ad Hoc Committee on BBL, on several occasions had stated that there shall be no more expansion of the areas of the Bangsamoro as identified in the initial draft BBL, which meant that Zamboanga City shall never form part of it.

“But, in the end,” she said Rodriguez’s committee even unilaterally amended the Framework Agreement (FA) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by providing the Tripoli Agreement provision under Section 4, Article XIV in the diluted BBL draft.

The city’s chief executive then challenged the Senate’s independence in its ongoing scrutiny of the proposed BBL and to exercise its constitutional mandate, it being part of the three coequal branches of government.

“We seek and expect the Senate to pass a law that is consistent and harmonious with and not contrary to the 1997 Philippine Constitution, a law that truly addresses grievances that bring about secession and armed conflicts in the Southern Philippines, and not merely for appeasement, a law that treats every Mindanaoan on even keel, a law that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines,” Climaco stressed in a statement.

The mayor also reminded the senators and other resource persons present during the hearing about “our rich experience (in 2008) from the defunct memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) which the Supreme Court had eventually declared as unconstitutional and contrary to law.”

“The (Senate) legislative branch of government is mandated to enact laws not contrary to the constitution,” Climaco averred even as she appealed forcefully to the senators: “Please, enact a law that shall pass judicial scrutiny and not a law that is based on legislative avoidance, and leave it instead to the Supreme Court to decide upon its validity.” — Vic Larato