BUHAY Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza on Wednesday called on his colleagues at the House of Representatives not to railroad the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its current form because it is full of constitutional infirmities.
“The Mamasapano incident should open all our eyes to the dangers of allowing a licensed armed group to be formed in the Bangsamoro area without any principle of control or accountability,” Atienza said.
He added: “While it is said that they will be under the PNP command, aren’t they supposed to be under Philippine laws when the massacre happened? So you can see that we are treading on very fragile ground here. We cannot risk the stability and the security of the nation as one Republic with a BBL law that is obviously defective in many of its provisions.”
“Article XVI, Section 6 of the Constitution states that there is to be only one police force, which shall be national in scope and civilian in character. No local government unit has ever been allowed to have its own local police force. When I was Mayor of the City of Manila, I proposed this several times but each attempt was turned down because it was unconstitutional. Does this mean that what was unconstitutional then is deemed constitutional now?” Atienza asked, adding, “If our policemen on an official mission to arrest a wanted criminal were murdered in that area, what happens if they will be allowed to have their own licensed armed group? Will anyone answer for this?”
Atienza said: “Another important point is the fact that the BBL provides for a parliamentary form of government. Is it constitutional to have a parliamentary system of government for them within our own present presidential system?”
But what is most bothersome, according to the lawmaker, is that the plebiscite will be conducted only among the people in the region who will benefit from the BBL implementation.
“We should demand no less than a national plebiscite since this affects every Filipino, and not allow such a deviation from the Constitutional mandate,” he said.