The strain of the ordeal House Palace allies in following President Aquino’s marching orders to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) passed at all costs is showing as Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, received requests from several legislators for an executive session to conceal their votes to the public.
Rodriguez said he had received the requests from the 75-member panel to conduct the voting in an executive session which would bar media from the proceedings when it votes today on the measure.
Based on the Palace timetable, the BBL should have hurdled Congress before it adjourns session on June.
Rodriguez said all is set for the voting after 48 public hearings and executive sessions and consultations.
He said that the voting could last for two to three days as only one-fourth of the 221 sections, 18 articles could be taken up during the first day of voting.
He said that the voting will not be swift because each lawmaker is expected to explain his or her vote.
“I think only about one-fourth could be voted upon (on the first day).Therefore out of 221 only 60 sections could be up for voting,” Rodriguez said.
He, however, said that the voting could be done in executive session depending on what would be agreed upon by the members of the ad hoc panel.
“But we have to get the approval of the committee. When the members say it’s open, the voting would be open to the public,” Rodriguez said.
He added that there are no instructions from Malacañang on how the voting should be conducted.
He said that next week the BBL would be forwarded to the plenary for debates and further scrutiny.
“We have divided ourselves into three clusters… Then we will be taking turns in the plenary to answer questions from lawmakers,” he said.
Rodriguez was optimistic that the BBL would be approved and that the approved version could withstand judicial scrutiny before the Supreme Court.
Outside the House of Representatives, groups of indigenous peoples are raising their concerns about the BBL.
“Things are not black nor white. One cannot simply be pro-BBL or anti-BBL. Issues in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) are far more complex to be taken like this,” Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray leader, said.
According to Timuay Bandara, there are a lot of serious issues and concerns raised by the indigenous peoples in Mindanao on the content of the BBL, particularly their identity and territory as non-Moro Indigenous Peoples. “We have consistently and persistently articulated these, to the Peace Panel then, and now in the Congress. The panel has failed us. Now, we hope the Congress will be enlightened to hear our voices, and pass a BBL that is truly inclusive, and just. We call for the full recognition and articulation of the indigenous peoples’ rights in the BBL.”
Timuay Bandara is one of the leaders who participated in a ritual to seek enlightenment for Congress as it resumes its deliberation on the proposed BBL. Tulak Bungkas Itungan, a ritual for enlightenment, was performed in front of the Batasang Pambansa by indigenous women and men, with Teduray flags, gongs, and chants. This was done a day before Congress deliberations resume on Monday.
“Dapat pantay na pagbalangkas ng batas, hindi maging tagapag-api ng mamayang minorya,” (“What should be drafted and passed is a fair and just law; not a law that would discriminate against the minority population.”) said Abay Rendaw Mosela, a Teduray Kemamal Keadan or Supreme Spiritual Leader who led the ritual. “We hope that the spirits will open and bless the minds and hearts of the members of the Congress as they deliberate the draft BBL.” Mosela added.
The indigenous peoples (IPs) are pushing that their identity as non-Moro indigenous peoples be recognized in the BBL. Non-Moro IPs are IPs who have not collectively (as a tribe) nor individually ascribed themselves as Bangsamoro. They assert that the unique identity of non-Moro IPs and all their rights arising from such identity should be respected at all times and under all conditions by the Bangsamoro Government, and this should be clearly articulated in the proposed BBL.
“Ang Batas ay para sa lahat hindi sa iilan lamang, at wala itong pinipili mahirap man oh mayaman, pantay na pagtingin sa karapatan ng tao para sa tutuong Kapayapaan,” said Jennevive Cornelio. (“The law is for everyone, and not just for some, and that it does not choose to work for the poor, or the rich alone; there should be an equal treatment of the rights of the people. Then there can be peace.”) Cornelio is one of the Teduray women leaders who played the gong during the ritual.
The ritual was attended and supported by IP rights and human rights advocates including Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MMPM), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Focus on the Global South, Stop the War Coalition-Phils., Tebtebba Foundation, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), and Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP).
Those pushing for closed-door voting claimed the discussions on the law’s provisions would be more “open” if media are not around.
“For me, I’d rather have the voting open to the media and public. But we would start with an executive session…Ultimately, [the proposal to make the voting public] will be approved by the membership,” he said.
“I assure you, we’ll really take into consideration the fact that there should be transparency,” he said.
Recently, leaders of both chmabers of Congress agreed to pass the highly-controversial BBL before the sine die adjournment of the Second Regular Session of the 16th Congress on June 11.
“We will try to do our best to hit the target dates,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said.
A meeting was recently held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas Center attended by House leaders Belmonte; House Majority Floor Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II; Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, chairs the House committee on ways and means; Senate President Franklin Drilon; and acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
Rodriguez said once they tossed the measure to the plenary, they would cease from deliberating other pending vital measures.
The Rodriguez committee will vote the amended House Bill 4994, or the BBL measure on May 11 and 12 and will be endorsed for plenary debate and approved it on May 18.
The committee is set to scrap at least eight controversial provisions, seven of which are unconstitutional.
Among the provisions in the BBL draft needed to be deleted are the creation of a separate Bangsamoro electoral body as the election body in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous entity; the creation of a civil service office similar to the functions of the Civil Service Commission (CSC); the establishment of a Bangsamoro Commission on Audit (CoA); the provision creating a disciplinary authority over officials in the region which is similar to the Office of the Ombudsman;
The creation of a human rights body which will have jurisdiction over all human rights violations within the region; clothing the Bangasamoro government with primary responsibility over public order and safety in the covered territory; and
The provision mandating coordination protocol agreement before the Armed Forces of the Philippines can deploy its personnel in the Bangsamoro; and the so-called “opt-in” section that would allow 10 percent of registered voters of the barangay units of contiguous municipalities or cities outside the original Bangsamoro area to demand a plebiscite to propose joining the autonomous region.
For his part, Quimbo said congressional leaders also agreed to pass the key legislation that would boost the country’s competitiveness.
Quimbo said the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (TIMTA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Charter amendment, Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) Law, Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill, Mining Bill, merger of Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and among others will also be prioritized.
BAKIT KAILANGAN ITAGO NG KONGRESO ANG BOTOHAN SA BBL? PARA BA HINDI MALAMAN NG TAONG BAYAN KUNG SINO-SINO ANG PUMANIG SA PAGPASA NG SALOT NA BBL? UPANG IWASAN ANG RESBAK NG MGA MAMAMAYANG TAHIMIK NA NANINIRAHAN SA MINDANAO NA PILIT GINUGULO NG MGA TERORISTANG MORONG MALAYSIA AT IILAN SA MGA POLITIKO SA BANSA NA BINILI ANG BAWAT BOTO UPANG PUMANIG SA MAKADEMONYONG BATAS NG TERORISTA?
ANG MGA KONGRISISTA AT SENADOR NA PAPANIG SA MAIITIM NA BALAK NG MGA AQUINO-COJUANGCO CLAN, TERORISTANG MILF AT MALAYSIA, MAGKANO KAYA ANG BAWAT ULO SA KANILA? KASINGHALAGA DIN KAYA NUNG BINILI NI AQUINO ANG MGA BOTO NG SENADOR 50MILYON BAWAT ISA NUNG PATALSIKIN NIYA SI PUNONG HURADO CJ CORONA UPANG HINDI MATULOY ANG PAMAMAHAGI SA LUPA NG HACIENDA LUISITA?
NASAAN NA KAYA ANG DANGAL NITONG MGA PINILI NG TAONG BAYAN AT ILUKLOK SA PWESTO UPANG PROTEKTAHAN ANG ATING MGA KARAPATAN KUNG SA HALAGA NG PERA ANG PRINSIPYO NILA AY NABABAYARAN?
KAAWA-AWANG MAMAMAYAN SA BANSANG PANGAKO, PANGAKO NG KARAMIHANG POLITIKO AY NAPAKO.
KUNG KAYO ANG TATANONGIN, DAPAT BANG ITAGO ANG BOTOHAN NG BBL?