Zubiri: Confidence in ARMM regional government will help BBL passage
COTABATO CITY (25 January 2018) “It is clear that public service in the ARMM is on an entirely different level,” Sen. Miguel Zubiri said after an emotional speech by Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman during the Joint Public Hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law Bills held in Cotabato City.
The hearing is the third joint public hearing on the said measure, according to Zubiri who chairs the Senate subcommittee on the BBL.
Holding back tears, Hataman expressed his sadness over accusations that the ARMM of recent years has done nothing to help the Bangsamoro people.
“I think of the sacrifices that manyof my colleagues had to make, some of them even leaving their families behind in the island provinces, just to serve the ARMM and to show that Moros and Muslims can lead our people,” Hataman said.
“It’s sad that there are people who discredit the value of the BBL and the gains of the ARMM,” the governor said. “This is challenge to all of us. Will we really sacrifice the future of the Bangsamoro just to advance our personal interests?”
Hataman stressed the importance of unity among leaders in the ARMM at this time, especially when any indication of discord is taken advantage of by those who are discrediting not only the BBL but their capacity to lead their people.
“Let us not wait for more deaths in our region, or for the return of ISIS. Let us not give terrorists a convenient narrative in which they can say to the government, ‘see, you’re only making fools out of us.’”
Salient points of the BBL
Atty. Raissa Jajurie of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) presented an overview of the revisions they made to the initial BBL draft they had in 2014, resulting to a new draft that is more aligned with the 1987 Consitution and the aspirations of the Bangsamoro. These revisions include explicitly reserved seats in the Bangsamoro parliament for more sectoral representatives and citing the 2015 report of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commision in the creation of a transitional justice mechanism in the new Moro region.
Hataman, on the other hand, highlighted the clause regarding the Bangsamoro’s fiscal autonomy. He said that without fiscal autonomy, “we are autonomous only by name.”
Citing the Marawi siege, he said that the regional government spent 70 million pesos in the first three weeks of the conflict and there was an urgent need to realign funds to respond to the crisis. However, due to a lack of fiscal autonomy, they have had to first secure permission from national government agencies to do so.
The ARMM, in effect, was only able to rechannel some of its funds to Marawi sometime in December – more than six months since the crisis started.
“How autonomous are we really, if the functions of the national agencies are devolved to their ARMM counterparts but the funds aren’t?” Hataman asks. “If the solution is in our hands, and the problems are ours, shouldn’t the decisions involved in the process be ours, too?”
Representatives of different sectors were given a chance to express their stance regarding the BBL, starting with the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA)’s presentation of their position paper on the proposed legislation.
“We hereby express our unequivocal support to the establshment of the Bangsamoro region, rooted on decades if not centuries of historical injustices,” RLA Speaker Datu Roonie Q. Sinsuat said. He also called upon members of Congress to “enact a BBL that is reflective of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro.”
Abduramin Idris, a member of the Tumpukan Bangsa Sama Inc. and a Sama youth from Simunul, Tawi-tawi, expressed his support, but not without some concerns.
“If the intent is inclusion, why is the Sama people not represented in the BTC? My why is the why of thousands of Sama speaking people, and I am standing here today because I want to contribute to everlasting peace in the Bangsamoro,” he said.
“We are not here to beg; we are here to remind you that as the first Muslim inhabitants of the Bangsamoro, we support the passage of the BBL, and we hope there will be more opportunities for us to participate in the future,” he added.
Zubiri responded, saying that he has already been to Simunul and that it was a “life-changing experience.” He assured Idris as he noted that a public hearing will be held in Tawi-tawi on February 8, and that the Sama “will be given all the time we could give, so you can provide us inputs on how to further improve the BBL.”
Near the end of the hearing, Senator Sonny Angara said that ”the legislative process continues as we create a BBL that responds to the aspiration of the people.”
Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito said that he was happy to see and hear that the BBL is clearly supported in the region. “As your representative and your voice in the Senate, especially now that the constitutional infirmities of the old BBL draft have been addressed, I also support the BBL.”
“I am for peace,” Ejercito added.
BBL timeline of the Senate
During the hearing, Zubiri laid out the initial timeline that the Senate has set for the passage of the BBL.
“Hopefully, there will be no stumbling blocks. Our timeline is to finish by the second week of Feburary all the consultative hearings. Our Valentines gift to the Bangsamoro will be a finished committee report, and then we will start the deliberations around the third week of Februrary,” Zubiri said.
“Before the end of session in March, we’ll be holding our third reading and we hope we can pass the BBL by then,” he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros echoed a statement delivered early in the program by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front chair, Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim. “The BBL will be a political and not just a legal document, and we would have to stretch the spirit of the Constitution, exercising innovation while remaining faithful to its spirit,” she said.
Zubiri, who earlier filed his own BBL draft, has replaced it with the approved BTC draft. Hontiveros also filed in the senate the same BTC draft, and so did Senator Bam Aquino.
At the start of the program, Hontiveros also said, “Insha’Allah, this will pass. Mabuhay po ang BBL.”
Hataman has once again expressed his willingness to resign, should the BBL be passed before the end of his term to give way to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. (Bureau of Public Information)