House panels approve Bangsamoro law with ‘opt-in’ provision


THE committees on Muslim Affairs as well as Peace, Unity and Reconciliation of the House of Representatives have approved the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which provides for an opt-in provision for areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to be part of the new Bangsamoro Region under certain conditions.

The affirmative vote on the proposed BBL or House Bill 6475 as authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte was carried during an executive session late Monday, with only the House Committee on Local Government voting against the measure. It was House Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema who moved for the approval of the proposed BBL authored by Alvarez.

Under the opt-in provision, the contiguous areas of the ARMM will be included under the new Bangsamoro Region if there would be a resolution by the local government unit or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the geographic area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the ratification of the law and that majority of the votes in each of these LGUs favor their inclusion in the Bangsamoro Region.

Likewise, House Bill 6475 retains the central government’s power and control over defense and external security even as it provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro Military Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the Bangsamoro which will be organized, maintained, and utilized in accordance with national laws.

In addition, the BBL establishes the Bangsamoro Police force which will be in charge of law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro but which shall be part of the Philippine National Police.

The House panels have yet to draft a Committee Report on House Bill 6475 but were expected to have it ready by May 15 when the House resumes session.

The BBL failed to pass Congress during the Aquino administration since lawmakers sat on the measure after an ambush attack by Muslim extremists on government troops that killed 44 members of the Special Action Force in Mamasapano in 2015.

But before the proposed BBL, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government under the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo agreed on a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in July 2008—a pact which creates a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) that will be “associative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on executive, legislative, judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact,” and that “a period of transition will be established in a comprehensive peace compact specifying the relationship between the central government and the BJE.”

The MOA-AD, however, was declared illegal by the Supreme Court in October 2008. LLANESCA T. PANTI



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