“We regard the approved BBL as a Malacañang and Liberal Party BBL.” – Suara Bangsamoro
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA — A Moro group said the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that was approved by an ad hoc committee of Congress today, May 20, disregards the interests of the Moro people, and deprives them of their right to self-determination.
The House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro approved House Bill 5811 on its 51st session, voting 50-17.
“We regard the approved BBL as a Malacañang and Liberal Party BBL, because the result of the voting was only in the interest of Pnoy (President Aquino),” said Amirah Lidasan, Suara Bangsamoro national spokesperson.
Lidasan said with the amendments, the proposed BBL “loses the essence of the right to self-determination, or at least the right to govern, which the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) wanted in the law.”
“The future Bangsamoro government is being stripped of its powers to control its resources so that local and foreign businessmen could scourge the resources that had not been utilized inside the Moro areas due to armed resistance of the Moro people,” she said.
Progressive party-list lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc voted against the proposed BBL, criticizing it for not addressing poverty and the socio-economic roots of the Moro rebellion. They said the BBL will just be like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was granted only “limited autonomy.”
Suara Bangsamoro had been critical of the proposed BBL which Aquino submitted to Congress as an urgent bill last year.
The BBL will be the governing law of the Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the ARMM, and is supposed to contain the essential elements of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the Aquino administration and the MILF last year.
Control of resources
Lidasan said that just like the ARMM, the BBL will pursue the Aquino administration’s national development goals, which gives incentives to big foreign business investors and the local elite, while the Moro majority suffer from poverty and bad governance.
The Makabayan bloc, in its position paper on the draft BBL, said the bill only addresses the “power-sharing and division of wealth between the GPH and the Bangsamoro government.”
“The BBL glaringly lacks any provision that puts an end to the monopoly control of agricultural lands and mineral resources by foreign corporations and a handful of big compradors and landlords,” Makabayan said in its May 19 statement.
“Deleterious laws such as the 1995 Mining Act, laws on foreign investments, agreements such as the GATT/WTO, laws on land ownership, Oil Deregulation Law, Electric Power Industry Reform Act, and many other exploitative and oppressive GPH laws shall remain in force and dominate in the Bangsamoro,” said Makabayan.
“BBL does not invalidate these laws, nor does the Bangsamoro assembly have the power to invalidate, amend, or choose not to implement them,” it said.
Lidasan lamented that the committee even rejected the amendments put forward by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, who wanted a provision to ensure the economic rights of Moro farmers, such as land ownership. She said such provision could help resolve poverty caused by landlessness, and lessen the power over the people of the warlords in Mindanao.
Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap, in a statement said the amended BBL provisions on Basic Rights and on Social Justice made no mention of land distribution, while the provision on Rights of Labor only replicated “anti-labor programs and policies.”
“The BBL fits in the Aquino administration’s political and security objective, that of subduing the MILF and the MNLF through political settlement,” Lidasan said.
The Makabayan statement said it has now become apparent that the CAB and the BBL were part of “the grand deception and co-optation.”
The group said the Aquino government used a “divide-and-rule tactic to neutralize the MILF” so the military can concentrate its armed force on the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front and the New People’s Army.
“If widespread poverty and injustice are not addressed, the societal basis for the Moro armed struggle persists, just as it does for the armed revolution being waged by CPP-NDF-NPA,” the Makabayan said.
The approved Bangsamoro bill will be forwarded to the joint committees on appropriations and on ways and means, after which, it will be sent for final voting in the plenary. The House-approved bill will be unified with the Senate version, before it gets signed into law by President Aquino. After which, it will be put to a vote in a referendum in the ARMM and other covered areas.
The Senate committee on local government is still conducting consultations on the BBL and has yet to finalize its version.
The House committee approved the amendments to the proposed BBL in the late evening of May 19, the second day of voting. On May 18, the lawmakers spent hours debating on which version to vote on, as committee chair Rep. Rufus Rodriguez came out with another draft, after a Malacañang meeting with Liberal Party legislators over the weekend. The second draft did not show the proposed amendments made in the past 48 meetings of the committee, but was eventually approved as the working draft.