The House of Representatives has vowed to fast-track the passage of a measure providing for the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL), which seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), next month.
This, after two out of three committee approved on Monday House Bill 6475. HB 6475 is principally authored by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez. It is the same as the BBL version submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to Congress.
The House committee on Muslim affairs, voting 5-3, and special committee on peace, unity and reconciliation, voting 6-4, approved the motion to pass HB 6475 as the BBL version and retain all of the bill’s provisions. However, 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 passage of this bill [at the plenary] will be quick following President Duterte’s instructions and support from Muslim legislators,” Sema said in an interview.
“It [HB 6475] is the most accepted version because the BTC appointed by the President crafted that version, which came from Malacañang, submitted to Congress authored by no less than Speaker Alvarez and supported by many other congressmen,” she added.
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 of the Second District of Pampanga, and Rep. Mohamad Khalid Q. Dimaporo of the First District of Lanao del Norte, respectively. According to Sema, the panels will meet again when session resumes on May 15 to approve the committee report on HB 6475.
For her part, Party-list Rep. Amihilda J. Sangcopan of Anak Mindanao said it is high time to uphold and pay respect to the previous peace negotiations and signed peace agreements.
“The BTC-drafted BBL is the conglomeration of all these peace agreements. The BTC version of the BBL clearly holds the meaningful aspiration of the Bangsamoro people in the quest for the right to self-determination. Thus, our call to each and everyone to respect with high regard the substance of those agreements through the provisions of the BBL,” Sancopan said.
“Thus, we reiterate and call on the legislature to: respect all peace agreements, adopt the BTC version [of the] Bangsamoro basic law, justly address the concern and welfare of the bona fide, qualified and permanent workers in the ARMM, and, finally, to maintain the stance of peace as the only option to address just and lasting peace in Mindanao and the entire country,” she added.
If enacted into law, HB 6475 would repeal Republic Act 9054, titled “An Act to Strengthen And Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” and RA 6734, titled “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.