TWELVE of the 14 members of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes believe that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is unconstitutional and will not withstand scrutiny at the Supreme Court.
Sen. Miriam Santiago said 11 members of the panel that she heads signed the committee report that was recently transmitted to the Committee on Local Government that is reviewing the Bangsamoro bill. The panel is chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The 27-page report submitted by Santiago said the measure that seeks to create the Bangsamoro region will diminish national sovereignty.
The report pointed out that the Bangsamoro government will be a sub-state, which is not allowed under the Constitution.
“By affixing their signatures in the committee report, senators are agreeing with the conclusion that the present BBL draft is essentially unconstitutional. I expect that more of my colleagues will adopt the same view on the Senate floor,” Santiago said.
Aside from Santiago, those who signed the report were committee vice chairman Aquilino Pimentel 3rd; acting minority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd; and committee members Sonny Angara, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Teofisto Guingona3rd, Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Cynthia Villar.
Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto and Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano, ex-officio members, also expressed their support to the report. Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th has not yet signed it because he is out of the country.
Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile, an ex-officio member, did not sign the report because he has not studied the matter fully, according to his staff.
“The Bangsamoro Basic Law has much merit, but its promulgation requires constitutional amendment or revision; mere legislation will not suffice, and will spark Supreme Court litigation,” the report stated.
The committee report will either be consolidated with the reports of the committees on local government and peace, unification, and reconciliation, or adopted as an individual report.
Marcos’ committee will conduct its last hearing on June 3, before it starts drafting the Senate version of the BBL which will be presented and debated in plenary.
Not giving up
But Malacañang was unfazed by Santiago’s report.
In a press conference, its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the government remains committed to the peace process.
“We are not alien to challenges, especially when it comes to the process that we have been undergoing for the BBL. And, as the President said, he’s waiting for word should it be required that he meet with the senators to flesh out positions when it comes to the BBL. You know, we’ve always said that we recognize the independence of both Houses of Congress, and that of course they can propose amendments to any piece of legislation that we work with them. So, at this point, we look forward to the opportunity, really, to continually discuss the administration’s position on the BBL with the senators,” Valte said.
“We’re optimistic that the President can ably put forth the position of government when it comes to the BBL. It’s not for us. It’s really for our brothers and sisters who are down there who would—who have been asking for a shot at a normal life without the guns and without the noise,” she added.
Asked if the Palace is amenable to the senators’ proposal to substantially revise the BBL, Valte said: “We’ve always been of the position that we want the essence of autonomy preserved.”