Zubiri assures BBL to be ‘ARMM plus’

MANILA Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday said the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be an enhanced version of the existing Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In an interview at the sidelines of the bicameral conference on BBL, Zubiri assured that the new juridical entity called Bangsamoro would lead to an ARMM plus rather than an ARMM minus, allaying fears of a watered-down version.

We've reached a consensus that whatever was in the ARMM Law, Republic Act 9054, we will retain and hopefully enhance (it), Zubiri said.

In other words, we do not want an 'ARMM minus', what we want is an 'ARMM plus', he added.

Zubiri said the bicam committee decided to agree on the acceptable provisions of the bill and defer action on its contentious provisions at a later time.

He said among the contentious provisions of the proposed BBL include the territorial jurisdiction of the envisioned Bangsamoro region, wealth sharing, territorial waters, and inland bodies of water, among others.

Whatever decision we make in the next three days, I'm hoping that it is an acceptable measure by the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), and all stakeholders, Zubiri said.

When I say acceptable, that means it will be agreed upon by all sides and with this agreement, no hostilities would take place, he added.

Under the ARMM law, the Bangsamoro governments' share in taxes of the national government is 30 percent.

The senator from Mindanao said the panel has agreed to adopt the House version which gives the Bangsamoro a larger share.

Under section 11 of HB 6475, national government taxes, fees, and charges collected in the Autonomous Region in the Bangsamoro, other than tariff and customs duties, shall be shared with 25 percent to the national government, and 75 percent to the Bangsamoro, including the shares of the local government units.

The Senate version, as proposed by Senator Ralph Recto, seeks a split sharing.

Personally, I agree that it is already part of the ARMM law, and we should not diminish in any effect provisions of the ARMM law. Others are territorial waters, inland bodies of waters. These are already clearly indicated in the original ARMM law and we're willing to restore in this version, Zubiri said.

The bicameral committee has also agreed to delete the propose BBL's anti-political dynasty provision.

Article VII Section 15 of Senate Bill 1717 states that no Party Representative should be related within the second (2nd) civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to a District Representative or another Party Representative in the same Parliament.

On the other hand, House Bill 6475, does not have an anti-political dynasty provision.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) head and MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar, meanwhile, said they will not accept a watered-down BBL less than ARMM.

"Kung ito ay mas mababa sa (If this is lower than) ARMM, we consider it watered down," Jaafar said.

Members of both chambers of Congress on Monday conducted a bicameral conference to reconcile the differences between their respective versions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The bicameral conference, spearheaded by House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas and Zubiri, was held at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Quezon City. The meeting will run from Monday until Friday. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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