Alvarez junks Bangsamoro law

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Presumptive Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez junked the proposed Bangsamoro law, saying it will not be needed because the Duterte government will pursue federalism.

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which was the fruit of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and established a Bangsamoro Region that will enjoy fiscal autonomy and be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament elected by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region’s inhabitants—won’t be necessary because the Duterte administration will be pursuing federalism instead.

Federalism is a system of government wherein each of the country’s at least 16 regions will be self-governing under a federal (central) government.

“Once a federal system of government is in place, there would be no need for a Bangsamoro Basic Law because Muslim Mindanao will already have its own autonomous region co-existing with other autonomous regions,” Alvarez said in a statement.

“Federalism will allow the autonomous regions to realize their full economic potential as self-governing units that are directly answerable to their respective constituents,” Alvarez added.

Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, a former professor in the UP College of Law, earlier warned that only three regions will have enough resources to survive a federal form of government: the National Capital Region, Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Region 4-A (Calabarzon).

Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni Robredo also expressed her fears on federalism, considering that poorer regions like the Bicol Region (Region 5) and the ARMM do not have a lot of locally-generated funds and are still heavily dependent on the Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government.

But Alvarez argued against this.

“As for fear that poor regions (i.e., Samar and Leyte) may suffer from federalism, we will assure the people that we have already devised a plan wherein such provinces shall be grouped with better performing provinces in order to help them strive and attain a better performing region,” Alvarez pointed out.

But the allies of federalism’s main proponent—President Rodrigo Duterte—are not on the same page when it comes to how to amend the Constitution.

While Alvarez is for ConCon wherein the voters will be allowed to elect delegates who will work with Presidential appointees on amending the Constitution, Congresswoman Gloria Arroyo, as well as Reps. Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental are in favor of Constitutional Assembly which does not allow the voters to elect their representatives in the body that will work on revising the 1987 Charter.

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