Bangsamoro not a substate – Palace

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Malacañang on Saturday rejected criticisms that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will create a state within a state that will threaten the sovereignty of the Philippines.

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“We don’t agree with that opinion. We’ve gone through every detail of the draft of BBL. If you read the draft of BBL you will see the relationship of proposed entity to government, and the national government remains supreme . . . it’s very clear in the draft,” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said in a radio interview.

The Palace official was reacting to the claim of former University of the Philippines College of Law dean Merlin Magallona that the BBL may create a “sub-state” with “equal strength” to the national government.

Magallona claimed that there may be a splitting of powers, despite the 1987 Constitution’s provision that says powers shall reside under the national government.

The Bangsamoro bill seeks to establish an autonomous government in Mindanao and give the new entity wider political and fiscal autonomy.

The Bangsamoro region will get automatic appropriations from the national government similar to the internal revenue allotment given to local government units.. Under the bill, the Bangsamoro will get a four percent share in national internal revenue collections.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional expert, has called the proposed law unconstitutional as it “attempts to redefine the sovereignty” of the Philippines.

“The Philippine Constitution provides for the powers of the state. The Constitution is supreme. The Agreement reserves to the central government the exercise of so-called ‘reserved powers,’ which are described as powers ‘retained by the central government.’

Thus, the Agreement diminishes the sovereignty of the Philippine government by listing what are the powers that the central government can retain,” Santiago earlier said.
This provision is only one of the many issues that lawmakers said defenders of the Bangsamoro bill need to clarify.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier convened a peace council in the aftermath of the Mamasapano tragedy that sparked public outrage and eroded support for the BBL.

The BBL is a key factor in implementing the peace deal between the government and the MILF.

But aside from the political fallout over the measure, it also faces questions on constitutionality and inclusiveness, among others.

Valte acknowledged that there have been challenges but the government remains optimistic that the BBL bill will be passed.

“We have faced challenges in the past when it comes to the peace process and, you know, we remain optimistic that the discussion remains on the table and that it will be given attention by our legislators. So hopefully, Marie, the discussions will push forward on the BBL,” she said.

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