27 November 2015
The Manila Times
Dear Editor-in-Chief Tenorio,
This pertains to the opinion column of Mr. Homobono Adaza entitled, “Palawan battleground: Alvarez with vested interests vs Hagedorn and the people,” published on The Manila Times website on 11 November 2015. A statement is made in said article that “… Palawan is included in the territory of the Bangsamoro…”
We would like to bring your attention to the language of the originally transmitted draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the versions in the Senate and the House of Representatives. None of the different drafts of the BBL reflect such a claim of inclusion of Palawan.
We wish to reiterate that Palawan is not contemplated in the bill to be part of the prospective area of the proposed Bangsamoro region. It is not in the list of local government units where a plebiscite shall be held to ratify the BBL. The enumeration is limited to the current provinces in the ARMM, the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, and the 39 barangays of North Cotabato and six municipalities of Lanao del Norte.
Palawan is, likewise, not covered by the opt-in provision. This option allows other LGUs to petition the COMELEC to hold a plebiscite in their locality to determine their desire to join the Bangsamoro. A key requirement – contiguity to the enumerated areas of the prospective Bangsamoro region – is lacking in the case of Palawan.
Palawan is only mentioned in the bill in the definition of the Bangsamoro identity. This is simply in recognition of the fact that at some point in history, the Sultanate of
Sulu extended to the areas covered by Palawan, and that the Palawanons/Palawanis belong to the 13 Muslim ethno-linguistic groups that comprise the Moro people.
We hope this finally clarifies the impossibility of Palawan becoming part of the Bangsamoro region.
ATTY. ANNA TARHATA BASMAN
GPH Legal Team