Zubiri hopeful BBL will open the doors of Mindanao to more investors

Published June 7, 2018, 6:28 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is hopeful that the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will open the doors of Mindanao to more investors and spur the growth of the country’s economy.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri

Zubiri, chair of the Senate subcommittee on BBL and sponsor of the Senate-approved version of the priority measure, on Thursday said he has had “several meetings” with leaders of big businesses who had expressed plans to invest in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

“Alam niyo excited na excited sila pumasok lalo na pagmapayapa na po yung lugar, wala nang gulo (You know, they are very excited to enter especially when the region is peaceful). They are excited with the idea of a very rich Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Zubiri said in the regular Kapihan sa Senado on Thursday.

He said he has met with officials of Aboitiz Group, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, and Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy who supposedly asked for a briefing on the BBL.

The BBL is expected to address the extremism in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Zubiri said this the government’s “last” move in the peace process in the region.

The senator said the companies expressed willingness to cooperate with the upcoming Bangsamoro government, even as the autonomous region may impose additional taxes on them.

“Ang mahalaga sa kanila, kapayapaan. Ang mahalaga sa kanila hindi sila maki-kidnap…na ‘pag lagay sila ng business nila sa lugar ‘yon, pupuntahan ng tao…at protektado sila (What’s important for them is peace. What’s important is that they won’t get kidnapped, and people are protected when they put up their businesses in this area),” he said.

Zubiri said investors are also “very interested” on the potential of the region in tourism.

“Tourism can finally be put in place in the areas. I have said this in the floor and I have said this in many fora, the best beaches in the Philippines are located in Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Basilan…Walang-walang ang Boracay (Boracay has no match for their beaches),” he said.

“‘Pag inaayos natin ang (If we fix the) peace and order problem d’yan (there), I believe the GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of those areas on tourism pa lang (alone) will be double digits,” Zubiri exclaimed.


Zubiri, meanwhile, asked the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to understand the process of legislation and that amendments have to be made in order for the proposed BBL to stand the test of constitutionality.

“We cannot approve en toto (in full)…When it comes to lawmaking, whatever you file is not the exact measure that will come out on third on final reading,” Zubiri said.

BTC chair and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar earlier said they hoped that Congress would not pass a “watered down” BBL. He said they expect lawmakers to include proposals in the final version of the law.

The BTC drafted the BBL and submitted their proposals to the Congress. Jaafar said the approval of BBL will prompt the MILF to decommission its forces.

Zubiri admitted that the BTC was not pleased with some of the Senate’s amendments to the BBL, particularly, on reducing the region’s share in its taxes.

The Senate reduced to 50-50 percent the sharing in national government taxes collected in the Bangsamoro, other than tariff and customs duties.

The BTC originally wanted 75 percent to go to the proposed Bangsamoro region.

“I’m appealing to BTC brothers and sisters, na wag sana silang magtampo, ‘wag sana silang magalit. We felt na ang version na napasa Sa Senate ay constitutionally-complaint,” Zubiri said.

The Congress bicameral committee is scheduled to convene on July 9 to 13 to thresh out the differing provisions of the BBL versions.