Lobregat, Sema, Sahali get into heated word war over BBL provision on ‘settlers’

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By John Carlo Cahinhinan

Three lawmakers from Mindanao got into a heated argument Wednesday (July 11) during a meeting of the bicameral conference committee over a provision in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) about “settlers.”

Politiko’s source said tension rose after Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat proposed an amendment that will scrap the term “settlers” in the bill.

Lobregat reportedly did not want the term included the measure because he finds it a derogatory word to describe non-Moros and non-indigenous citizens of the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR).

However, Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema objected to Lobregat’s proposal. She was supported by Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali-Tan.

Sema and Sahali-Tan argued that “settlers” played a big role in enriching Bangsamoro’s history and is therefore not a derogatory word.

Soon, the lawmakers found themselves raising voices at one another. This prompted House Majority Floor Leader and Bicam co-chair Rodolfo Fariñas to mediate and pacify the situation.

Lobregat eventually withdrew his proposed amendment.

In an interview, Sema said there was nothing wrong with the term “settlers” since they are given the same privileges with the Moro people.

“Wala yung derogatory meaning. Actually they will be given seats pa nga sa Bangsamoro Parliament. Binibigyan pa sila ng mga privileges,” she said.