Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday vowed that he will not allow a flawed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be rammed down the Senate’s throat.
He gave the assurance when he met with local officials from Cotabato led by Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes in Koronadal City.
“I am standing before you here today to make sure that you know, you understand. I will not allow this draft BBL to be forced down our throats. Hindi ako papayag na i-madali itong BBL, hindi ako papayag na ma-railroad yung BBL sa committee ko [I will not allow BBL to be rushed, I will not allow it to be railroaded in my committee],” Marcos, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said.
“I cannot promise that I will win every battle but I am promising you that I will fight with everything that I have for what I believe is necessary,” he added.
The senator reiterated his pledge to correct flaws in the draft law so that it will withstand legal scrutiny.
Other local officials present in the dialogue included Vice Gov. Cecil Biel, South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez (2nd District), members of the provincial council, six town mayors and their vice mayors, as well as officials and employees of government offices in the province.
Fuentes had objected to the inclusion of South Cotabato in the proposed Bangsamoro region. So did Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.
Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front earlier urged Congress to pass the draft BBL without changes.
In a privileged speech before Congress adjourned last week, Marcos said he will not allow the bill to be passed in its present form. He added thathe will prepare a substitute bill to cure deficiencies in the Malacanang-sponsored measure.
The senator explained that he will not totally discard the draft BBL measure.
He said provisions of the draft BBL may not even be deleted but only “clarified.”
According to him, his committee’s top priority will be to address concerns raised by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.
“If we don’t address these issues and the matter is brought later before the Supreme Court, it will likely be struck down as unconstitutional. If that happens, all that we did was for nothing,” Marcos said.
He added that the committee will work on provisions governing power-sharing between the national and Bangsamoro governments, creating the Bangsamoro police and administrative and economic matters.
Marcos said that while he recognizes the need to give the Bangsamoro regional government autonomy, there should be appropriate checks and balances.
The senator added that he will prepare the substitute bill while the Senate is in recess so that it can be discussed when session resumes on July 27.
“We will be very methodical. We will be very objective,” Marcos said.