General & Misc

BBL Hearings focus on its Coverage and Constitutionality

Date: 11 March 2018; Type: Legal News; Source: House of Representatives

The House committees on local government and Muslim Affairs as well as the special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity last week tackled several issues pertaining to the possible areas of coverage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law such as energy, natural resources, and land titling provisions of the bill and the BBL’s constitutionality.

Officials of the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Supreme Court (SC), and the Land Management Bureau (LMB) gave their insights and suggestions on the proposed BBL.

Energy Assistant Secretary Atty. Gerald Erguiza, Jr. said after a thorough review of the BBL, the DOE is not yet ready to integrate the energy matters into the BBL bill because there are so many complex things that still need to be studied.

He said that after such time, the DOE may eventually integrate into the BBL certain responsibilities that would be devolved to the Bangsamoro Region.

Erquiza said all energy matters should be largely regulated by the national and central government. “(Power) transmission lines are matters of national security and therefore should be regulated by the national or central government. National security is a primordial state concern”, he said.

Land Management Bureau Director Atty. Emelyne Talabis, said the LMB supports the passage of the BBL, particularly the decentralization of the cadastral survey to the Bangsamoro government, including the land disposition of public lands, land management, land declassification, and all other aspects of land administration and management.

Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court representative Atty. Leah Enriquez, said the Office of the Court Administrator was instructed by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to attend the hearing to be updated on the issue of court administration under the BBL.

Rep. Wilter Palma requested all the resource persons to submit their position papers as well as geographical maps and cadastral surveys of the proposed Bangsamoro region.

In another hearing also last week, the committees listened to the views of resource persons on the constitutionality of the BBL.

Retired Justice and Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) Chairman Manuel Lazaro said while the objectives of the creation of the BBL are noble and aimed at the attainment peace, progress and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao, it is the Philconsa’s position that any bill, law, or measure that would be established to achieve these goals must be in consonance within the framework of the Constitution as well as the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines, as articulated in Section 15, Article 10 of the Constitution.

Lazaro said the BBL being deliberated was extracted and copied from House Bill No. 6475, the original bill filed in Congress. He said this was a by-product of various agreements entered into during the past 15 years, beginning during the administration of former President of Fidel Ramos, then continued during former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time, and passed on to the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

He said this culminated in a Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which was questioned in the Supreme Court by five petitions, which were filed by different parties, and seven interventions by several Senators and various associations.

Unfortunately, he said in the case of the North Cotabato decision, the Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD as unconstitutional. However, even as it was declared unconstitutional, some leaders of the country and Muslim Mindanao were able to execute and craft the framework of the BBL, he said.

During the deliberation of the ConCom, Lazaro said Commissioner Jose Nolledo replied that another creation of an autonomous region would require an amendment of the whole Constitution. Under the 1986 Constitution, there are only two autonomous regions being recognized namely, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Hence, these autonomous regions are constitutional creations and cannot be abolished by law. They can only be abolished by an amendment to the constitution, he said.

The committee on local government is chaired by Rep. Pedro Acharon, Jr., while the committee on Muslim Affairs is chaired by Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, Jr. and the special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity is chaired by Rep. Ruby Sahali. Other resource persons invited were representatives of the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), different academic and banking institutions.

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