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Two of three House panels approve Speaker’s version of BBL

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Two out of three House committees on Monday approved the Malacañang-backed version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) law.

The House committee on Muslim affairs voted 5-3, while the House special committee on peace, unity and reconciliation voted 6-4 to approve a motion to pass House Bill 6475, or the BBL, during Monday’s meeting, which was in executive session.

But the committee on local government rejected the motion by a vote of 1-9.

House Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema raised the motion to pass HB 6475 as the BBL version during the joint meeting of the three panels.

The approved HB 6475 is principally authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. It is the same as the BBL version submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) first to Malacañang, which was then adopted by Alvarez and other House leaders and filed as a House bill.

HB 6475 is among the four BBL proposals filed in the House. The other three are HBs 92, 6121, 6263, and 6475 authored by Sema, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, respectively.

Arroyo has withdrawn her version and has expressed support for the Speaker’s bill.

The panels will meet again when session resumes on May 15 to approve the committee report on HB 6475.

If enacted into law, HB 6475 would repeal Republic Act No. 9054, entitled “An Act to Strengthen And Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” and RA No. 6734, entitled “An Act Providing for An Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

The measure seeks to establish a political entity, provide for its basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for a meaningful self-governance.

Under the bill, the Bangsamoro territory shall remain a part of the Philippines.

The measure delineates the core territory of the Bangsamoro to be composed of:: 1) the present geographical area of the ARMM; 2) the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagolan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; 3) the cities of Cotabatao and Isabela; and 4) all other contiguous areas where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.

To ensure the widest acceptability of the BBL in the core areas, a popular ratification shall be conducted among all the Bangsamoro within the areas for their adoption.

HB 6475 retains the central government’s power and control over defense and external security.

It provides that the defense of the Bangsamoro shall be the responsibility of the Central Government. The Central Government shall create a Bangsamoro Military Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the Bangsamoro, which shall be organized, maintained, and utilized in accordance with national laws.

The measure also calls for the creation of a Bangsamoro Police for law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro but it shall be part of the Philippine National Police.