Drilon optimistic there will be peace in war-torn Mindanao with OK of proposed BBL

Published July 14, 2018, 4:53 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Mario Casayuran

With the eventual approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Saturday said he is optimistic that there will be peace in war-torn Mindanao.

Senator Frank Drilon (Senate of the Philippines Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Frank Drilon (Senate of the Philippines Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon expressed his optimism as senators and congressmen who are members of their bicameral conference committee meet again Tuesday to look at the clean copy of the BBL charter already 99 percent complete.

He said he is hopeful that the conference committee report would be approved late next week for eventual ratification by both the Senate and the House of Representatives meet for the third regular session of the current 17th Congress.

The Muslim secession movement has plagued the central government for close to five decades.

After four days of discussions with his fellow lawmakers, Drilon said he is confident that the measure is constitutionally compliant, particularly on the issue of parliamentary form of government.

Drilon said a parliamentary form of government to be given to the Bangsamoro government is allowed by the Constitution..

He, however, did not rule out the possibility that somebody would question its constitutionality before the Supreme Court.

Drilon, a former Senate President and former Justice secretary, said he himself introduced 60 specific powers to the Bangsamoro government.

He said the proposed Bangsamoro government would be more powerful than the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as it would have more resources.

He cited the block grant of P60 billion to P70 billion annually to the Bangsamoro government.

This is on top of the taxes they could impose in the Bangsamoro region. This represents five percent of national taxes.

The Bangsamoro government would also regularly get from the national government Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) per province.

‘’I believe there will be peace in Mindanao,’’ Drilon said..

’Except for one issue,’’ Drilon said, citing the refusal of some of his colleagues to totally eliminate the existence of political dynasties.

While he pushed for the passage of an anti-dynasty provision covering members of parliament, governors, mayors and vice mayors, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, head of the Senate bicameral conference committee, wanted that provision should cover only members of the Bangsamoro Parliament but not governors, mayors and vice mayors.

Drilon also said he is disappointed because proposed BBL is weak in addressing governance.

He cited an Ateneo University study that four of the poorest provinces in the Philippines are in Muslim Mindanao.

The cause is that political dynasties are not controlled by law, he said.

Drilon said he doubts whether the issue of poverty could be addressed without an anti-political dynasty provision in the proposed BBL.

It is toothless, he added.

Drilon cited a governor where he and his two siblings each have helicopters. He did not elaborate.

He said the issue of anti-political dynasty might be taken up in the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

He said the Consultative Commission chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno submitted on Thursday its report to Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III proposing amendments to the 31-year-old Charter.

One of these amendments is the shift from the current unitary to federal form of government.

The committee report has a provision against political dynasties, he said.

Sotto had called for a caucus of all senators to discuss the Puno report.