On the BBL version approved by the House Ad Hoc Committee on Bangsamoro

COMMENTARY
By CHRISTIAN MONSOD
GMA News Online


 
The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Bangsamoro yesterday (May 20) passed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) amidst protests that it was being railroaded by the administration coalition.

Yet, as the Chair of the Committee Rep. Rufus Rodriguez pointed out, some 90 amendments were allowed, of which some are necessary clarifications and refinements to address concerns of minorities (indigenous peoples, other religious and cultural denominations, christian settlers), the assertion of the powers of the Supreme Court and the office of the ombudsman, and clarifications on the powers of the commissions on audit, civil service, comelec, ombudsman, human rights.

Some amendment may still be “contentious” from the point of view of the MILF that the Plenary will have to resolve including -- the so-called “opt-in” provision -- where compromise language was introduced to address the issue of potential constitutionality raised by the Peace Council and the Friends of Peace. 
 
In other words, the Ad Hoc Committee version is far from being a “railroaded” bill.

As for amendments not accepted by the Committee, the most contentious are those that sought to totally delete provisions related to the establishment of regional bodies, which the Peace Council and the Friends of Peace recommended be allowed by adding to those provisions the phrase “without prejudice to the powers, authorities and duties of the Commission on Audit (or other commissions, as the case may be)”  to address the issue of constitutionality.
 
There may be other “contentious” issues, but for lack of space, only the issue of the aborted deletion of the provisions of the regional bodies is taken up for now.
 
Under RA 9054 passed in 2001 on the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, such offices were expressly created. To exclude similar provisions in the BBL would be a backward step and may constitute bad faith on the part of the House Committee, and even of the House itself, since RA 9054 was passed when the Speaker then is also the Speaker now . 
 
Among the examples, RA 9054 provides:
 
(a) Article III,… “Section 16. Human Rights Commission. - There is  hereby created a Regional Human Rights Commission. The chair  and two commissioners of the commission shall be appointed by  the President upon recommendation of the Regional Governor. “ 
………”The Regional Human Rights Commission shall perform  within the autonomous region the functions of the commission  on human rights of the central government
or national  government. Decisions of the commission may be appealed to the  Court of Appeals on questions of law.”
 
(b) Article IV,….. Section 1, par. 2 – “The Regional Government may  enact its own regional administrative code and regional local  government code consistent with the Constitution…..” The  powers of the Regional Government is extensive and assumes a  regional civil  service commission
 
(c) Article IX,.... Section 2, par. 4: ”The utilization of the revenue  generated by the Regional Government and block grants or  subsidies remitted to it by foreign or domestic donors shall be  subject to the rules and regulations of the  Regional Government  Department of the Budget and Management, if any, and to audit  by regional government auditors. In the absence of such rules  and regulations, the audit of such funds, block grants or subsidies  shall be done by the  Commission on Audit…..”
 
Clearly, RA 9054 allows a regional commission on audit that  supplements and works with the Commission on Audit without  offending any constitutional provision. 
 
As we await the deliberations of the House in plenary session, we might want to listen closely to the quality of the debates and to separate the chaff from grain, so to speak.

While there are always false reformers in any collegial body, the great majority of our congressmen genuinely want peace and development and also want to hear from their constituencies on what they want for the country. 
 
Atty. Christian Monsod headed the Commission on Elections from 1991 to 1995. He is one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.  

 

From: GMA News Online