COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: A multi-billion peso information technology project may not push through if the original Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not approved, said an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) official.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, Regional Board of Investments chairman in ARMM, was referring to the East Asia Trilink Corporation, which registered with the RBOI in 2011 their P1.5-billion information communication technology project in the region.
Mastura opined that if the BBL that is passed by Congress will not provide for autonomous legislative powers for the Bangsamoro government with regards to transportation and communications that are currently enjoyed by the ARMM, this would mean that the East Asia Trilink project could be derailed.
It can be noted that in the substitute BBL, the fiscal incentives such as tax holidays that are being enjoyed by ARMM investors were removed.
Mastura said East Asia Trilink is supposed to install a submarine cable link to connect Mindanao to Sabah, Malaysia as part of its vision to become a leading service provider of telecommunication facilities in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
He said that EA Trilink’s investment was the single largest investment project in the ARMM.
The company has acquired their franchise to operate telecommunications facilities in the region on February 6, 1996 through Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 47 that was enacted into law by the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly.
And any extension of the franchise would need legislation by the same assembly.
According to lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, former ARMM executive secretary and a co-convenor of the Cotabato City-based Bangsamoro Study Group, “the proposed amendments changed the framework of the agreement of the parties on changing the status quo and of redefining the relation between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro to a point that the Bangsamoro has been reduced into the category of a local government unit.”
Sinarimbo said Resolution No. 005, Series of 2015 dated July 29, 2015 of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which drafted the original BBL, called for the passage of the original BBL and in effect rejected House Bill 5811.
In an earlier statement, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the substitute BBL or Senate Bill 2894 crafted by Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the Bangsamoro will be treated just like an ordinary local government unit and not an autonomous entity in Mindanao.