By Hannah Torregoza
The Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) that Congress is targeting to pass this week only proves there is no need to shift to a federal form of government to achieve autonomy or self-governance, said Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon.
“The Bangsamoro Basic Law which we are about to finish… is proof that we do not need federalism or amending the Constitution in order to achieve the self-governance or the benefits of the federalism that are being presented to the people,. Why? The BBL grants self-governance,” Drilon told reporters in an interview at the sidelines of the bicameral conference committee meeting at the Senate.
Drilon, part of the Senate contingent for the bicam meeting, said there are 55 enumeration of the powers of the Bangsamoro which he put under the BBL.
Under the BBL, Drilon said lawmakers have maximized the principle of decentralization enshrined in the Constitution and the local government code in order to guarantee the Bangsamoro autonomy.
“The same can be done to all other regions in the country,” the minority leader said of the measure that is now being deliberated at the Senate.
He also said the five percent of the taxes collected, estimated to be around P60 billion to P70 billion, would automatically be appropriated to the Bangsamoro region as grant.
“That is on top of its share in the taxes collected within the region. The region will also get its share from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA),” he added.
The senator noted that federalism, in simple terms, is about giving more powers to the local government units and less intervention from the national government.
“We can achieve that goal by way of a legislation or by strengthening the Local Government Code of 1991 which is a better, faster, and less controversial way than amending the Constitution,” Drilon pointed out.
Unless they have “ulterior motives” like term extension or a no-election scenario, Drilon said he doesn’t see any reason why lawmakers advocating for federalism refuse to attempt to explore this route rather than forcing Charter change upon the Filipino people.
“Kaya lalo pong umiigting ang paniwala ng taumbayan na itong Cha-cha ay para lang manatili ang incumbent elected officials sa kanilang pwesto at lalo na kapag natapos ang kanilang termino sa June 30, 2019, ang Pangulo ang may kapangyarihan na mag-appoint ng officers-in-charge (That is why the more people believe that this Charter change is just to ensure that incumbent elected officials will remain in their posts especially if their terms of office will expire on June 30, 2019 and the President is given authority to appoint officers-in-charge),” Drilon said.
“Dahilan dito kami ay naniniwala na hindi dapat baguhin ang Saligang Batas dahil kung anuman ang objectives ng pagbabago ng Saligang Batas in terms of governance, iyan po ay nagawa natin dito sa Bangsamoro Basic Law (With this we believe that there is no need to change the Constitution because whatever objectives they have in revising the Charter in terms of governance, we were able to do so with the BBL),” he said.