Lobregat on BBL: ‘I will be consistent and vigilant on the BBL’ Print
Saturday, 30 September 2017 14:23

BY DEXTER YAP

District II Congressman Celso L. Lobregat during the House session on September 25 said that the long road for the deliberation of the new proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has just begun, as he engaged Lanao Del Norte Congressman Khalid Dimaporo, who delivered a privilege speech on the BBL.

Cong. Lobregat made it clear from the beginning that he will be vigilant and consistent with his stand with regard to the BBL. “I am for peace, I am not anti-peace, but we need a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is just, that is fair, that is acceptable, feasible and more importantly, it should not be contrary to the Constitution and existing laws,” Cong. Lobregat said.

In his interpellation Cong. Lobregat renewed his commitment to peace in Mindanao and reiterated his stand that he is supportive of the lasting and equitable peace effort of the government.  Adding that like any other Mindanaoan, he also wishes to see the end of war in Mindanao which has been dragging on for almost half a century.

The solon recalled that when he was Mayor, the City Government of Zamboanga together with the Provincial Government of North Cotabato and the City Government of Iligan led the opposition to the botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) before the Supreme Court. Consequently, after several hearings, the MOA-AD was declared unconstitutional and not within the bounds of the law by the Supreme Court on the third quarter of 2008 describing the process that led to its crafting as “whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic.”

The MOA-AD according to Cong. Lobregat was the predecessor of the old BBL filed during the previous 16th Congress. Both documents have similar provisions, with some unconstitutional and controversial provisions in the former document being present in the latter.

The new BBL which the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) submitted to President Duterte, still contains the same and even more contentious and questionable provisions, according to Cong. Lobregat.

Among the contentious provisions in the present version of the BBL is that there will be six plebiscites. One for ratification of the law, and second the periodic plebiscite every 5 years for a period of 25 years in the cities, municipalities and other geographic areas outside the ARMM which did not join the Bangsamoro after the ratification of the BBL.

Instead of promoting peace, there will be a constant tug of war on the political boundaries that will promote instability. The Bangsamoro will try to expand its area of jurisdiction and in turn, the local government adjacent, surrounding or neighboring the Bangsamoro will also fight tooth and nail in order to retain their territory, said Cong. Lobregat.

But the solon further lamented that the fight will be one sided, because under the old and new BBL the Bangsamoro can extend assistance and even projects outside its present territory. The pouring in of projects to barangays or municipalities will be “the carrot” for these local government units whether it is a municipality, a city or a province to join the Bangsamoro territory, Cong. Lobregat added.

Lobregat said that like in the previous Congress where he actively took part in the deliberations of the old BBL, he will again be active and vigilant in the committee deliberations, plenary debates and caucuses to ensure that the interest of Zamboanga City and the rest of Mindanao are protected.

The congressman is hopeful that there will be the necessary amendments, deletions or additions to the bill removing the unconstitutional, controversial and disadvantageous provisions.  As what Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process has always said, we should not commit the mistakes of the past. We should learn from them. (Dexter Yap)