Senate ratifies Bangsamoro Organic Law

MANILA The Senate on Monday unanimously ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Organic law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri presented the report on the floor and thanked his fellow senators, who helped him during the lengthy, and sometimes feisty joint panel meetings.

He said the passage of the BOL heralds the dawn of a new beginning for Mindanao, "a dawn of peace followed by unhampered prosperity in the region."

The peace and prosperity we hope to achieve there would be felt from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. Gone will be the days of the battlefield shown in local and international media outlets, to be replaced hopefully with more tourism, more investments not only in the country but especially in Mindanao, he said.

Finally we can achieve a just and dignified peace for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, Zubiri said.

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros lauded the ratification of the BOL, saying the enactment of this bill "carries with it the Filipino people's collective hope to see and realize Bangsamoro as a region that is living in harmony and peace".

The BBL is our recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people. It is the legislative expression of our commitment to the peace process. The enactment of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is a good place to continue this long and overdue journey to a lasting and dignified peace, Hontiveros said.

The House of Representatives is also expected to ratify the BOL paving the way for President Rodrigo R. Duterte to sign the landmark measure into law before he delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) later in the afternoon.

Once the proposed law is approved in a plebiscite eyed later this year, the President can begin appointing members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

The BTA will be composed of 80 members, who will also include representatives of indigenous communities, youth, women, settler communities, and traditional sectors, among others.

Incumbent officials of the regional government will automatically be part of the BTA until June 30, 2019.

The BOL provides that the BTA shall secure around 33,000 employees in health, education and social welfare to ensure continuity of services.

The BOL also provides for a 75-25 wealth sharing terms in favor of the Bangsamoro region.

Currently, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gets 70 percent of the collections of a province or city from national internal revenue, fees, and charges as well as taxes imposed on natural resources. The remaining 30 percent goes to the national government.

Under the BOL, the taxing powers of the ARMM have been preserved and actually increased as the bill now allows the Bangsamoro government to collect Capital Gains Tax, Donor's Tax, Estate Tax and Documentary Stamp Tax.

The proposed measure also provides fiscal autonomy to the Bangsamoro government through the automatic allocation of the annual block grant, equivalent to 5 percent of net revenue collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

The Bangsamoro government will also jointly explore and utilize with the national government, through the Department of Energy, natural resources within the region.

The regional government will also be granted full control over their inland waters, except for bodies of water that contribute power to areas outside the region.

The BOL also provides that six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato could vote for their inclusion in the region in a referendum. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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