The chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law stood his ground that Congress will clip the powers of the Bangsamoro government under the proposed BBL despite contrary opinion expressed by the Peace Council led by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Monday said the Bangsamoro government cannot take over the duties of constitutional commissions such as Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Commission on Human Rights and even the Philippine National Police.
“There can be no interference with a [constitutional]commission. The commission can establish regional offices and expand their operations and powers since those are perfectly within the province of Constitutional Commissions. It is not Congress that will determine and create offices and place them under the commissions,” Rodriguez told reporters.
During submission of the Peace Council’s report on the BBL on Tuesday, Davide said the Supreme Court and the constitutional bodies will continue to maintain the powers given to them by the Constitution even if the BBL, which will be governed by the Bangsamoro government and will have its own auditing office and Bangsamoro police, is passed into law.
“There will be no diminution of powers. The wording of the BBL is clear. The special offices intend to supplement, not supplant, their national counterparts,” he added.
Rodriguez, however, insisted, “The BBL cannot be above the Constitution.”
The Peace Council is composed of Davide, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.
After today’s submission of the BBL report, Rodriguez’s panel will go into executive session (not open to the media) en route to drafting of the committee report on the proposed BBL.
The ad hoc panel is expected to vote on the proposed BBL by May 11 and have it ready for plenary debate by May 18.
The proposed law needs Congress’ approval by end of May for it to be ready for President Benigno Aquino 3rd signing it into law by June.
Further delays will mean non-passage of the measure since a plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Region coverage would still be conducted by the Commission on Elections.
Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority would still need at least nine months to lay the groundwork for the BBL’s implementation before the Bangsamoro government polls are held simultaneously with the May 2016 elections for the next President of the Philippines.