Press Release
May 18, 2015

Bam on the BBL Hearing (Excerpt)

Sen. Bam Aquino: Iyong Bangsamoro Government iboboto po iyan noong Bangsamoro people and of course the MNLF can run, the MILF can run. Anyone can actually run as long as you're part of the Bangsamoro people. Tama po?

OPAPP Usec. Jose Lorena: Yes, many people in the Bangsamoro are now preparing to run for the Bangsamoro Government.

Sen. Bam: Opo, are they all MILF or MNLF or may mga hindi din MNLF o MILF na tatakbo?

Usec. Lorena: Yes provided that they will qualify. In fact in the Bangsamoro now there are many groups organizing their own political parties.

Sen. Bam: Let me ask, kung hindi po kayo Muslim if you're an IP or even a Christian for that matter, can you run in the Bangsamoro Parliament?

Usec. Lorena: The Bangsamoro Basic Law doesn't say that only Muslim can run. Everybody who's part of the Bangsamoro can participate a democratic process to elect the officials of the government in the Bangsamoro.

Sen. Bam: And sa timeline po ng Peace Panel kung mapasa po sa June ang BBL, this will happen kasabay ng 2016 election. Iyon po iyong timeline niyo na hinahain ninyo na that you're espousing.

Usec. Lorena: First I would like to state that even in the postponement of the ARMM election, it was categorically stated that the risk for the postponement was to synchronized the election for 2016.

The Supreme Court has decided that the reason why it's allowed because of synchronization between the national and regional election. Therefore, based on the supreme court, the election for the Bangsamoro Government would have definitely be synchronized in 2016.

Sen. Bam: Kunyari po hindi kami matapos ng BBL by June. Let me just put it out hypothetically. Kung hindi po ito matapos ng June. Kailan po iyong magiging next elections niya? Puwede ba siya sa 2017 or hihintayin po yung 2019?

Usec. Lorena: First, we go by the law if there would be no BBL by the filing of the elections the Comelec is mandated to call for the filing of the certificate of the candidacy for the ARMM. And therefore, there would be an election for the ARMM and then definitely that is the nature of the law.

Sen. Bam: So magkakaroon po ng election sa ARMM kung hindi po matutuloy ang BBL by June. Is that really a hard deadline yung June?

Usec. Lorena: Yes, the ARMM is still there until the BBL is passed.

Sen. Bam: Let's say napasa ang BBL, January 2016 for example lang ho. January 2016, can you them call for elections as soon as possible or hindi po pwede?

Professor Ferrer: Yes Your Honor, The filing of candidacy begins in October. And therefore, it should be opened to all positions including the ARMM. If the law is not there but they might be some adjustments if the law is passed.

Remember, there is still a plebiscite and that is why we are working on a best scenario which is June, which will allow the Comelec enough time to prepare for the plebiscite Hopefully by October.

But in any case once the law is passed even in July or August then we would know that the ARMM would be replace with the Bangsamoro and some other adjustments provided in the Law as far as filing of candidacy.

Sen. Bam: So technically it is a separate law the BBL can say iyong election and correct me if I'm wrong, if the BBL says the elections will be on February 2017 is it possible or hindi po possible yan? Kailangan pong sumabay siya sa national elections?

Prof. Ferrer: A transitory measure it might be possible it might be acceptable but in the end it will if the elections 2017, it will be a short term because there would have been synchronized with 2019.

Sen. Bam: So whatever happens may election ng 2019 din kasi at 2016 for the ARMM.

Prof. Ferrer: In order to meet the synchronization requirements.

Sen. Bam: What I'm thinking po kasi is iyong concern ng ibang senador kahit ng media is the transition. But technically dito po sa current timing natin napakaikli lang talaga noong panahon na may transition commission tayo.

Because let's say mapasa po ito ng June, maging batas ng July, by October may filing of candidacy na, election na iyon. So your transition commission is actually quite short actually a few months kung tutuusin po. Walang isang taon technically.

Now that's a concern by a lot, this concern na itong transition commission ay MILF lang ang laman. But actually it's not even for a very long time. It's only for a short time.

If the process is prolonged iyong transition commission ninyo could actually be longer or mas mahaba pa. My question, Professor, is hindi multi-sectoral iyong transition commission.

That is only my question, Mr. Chairman, that this is not a multi-sectoral commission and that some legislators, some people of course in the media are asking you include more individuals kasama na po ang MNLF sa transition commission.

Kindly give a comment on that please.

Professor Ferrer: Your Honor, Ito po iyong Bangsamoro Transition Commission which drafted the BTA. As I was saying earlier your Honor, the President will be making the appointments. That's a power that will be given in the law and therefore, the President will make sure that the membership would be inclusive after all its quite a big number it provides for 50 members.

In fact, we have even had representations from the RLA that they be carried over to this BTA. And that is a feasibility that can very well happen but at the end of the day it is the President, who will be appointing the members of the BTA.

Sen. Bam: Professor Ferrer, kung ganoon din pala what about if we ready put it in the law, put some lines in the law that assures inclusivity assures certain groups will be included.

Hindi lang po MNLF iyong nagsabi na they want to be part of the BTA, even mga IP groups have stated, some civil society groups stated, women and youth, would it be so contrary to the goals of the BBL if we are just include some of the provisions about the BTA.

Professor Ferrer: No your honor. That will probably be addressed, the concerns I think the MILF is not averse to that position. What they were saying is that they will play a significant role but it will not be the only player.

Sen. Bam: Thank you for that Professor Ferrer. Mr. Chairman, I just want to clarify what was mentioned was that we're open to having this BTA to be more inclusive as what Senator Cayetano had mentioned earlier.


Sen. Bam: (To MILF-ICC chairman Habib Mudjahab Hashim) For example, sa wealth sharing. Iyong wealth sharing sa BBL, is it less than the one in the Tripoli Agreement?

Chairman Hashim: It's better iyong wealth sharing between the MILF and the Philippine government.

Sen. Bam: Mas maganda po ang wealth sharing sa BBL? Mr. Chairman, kaklaruhin ko, with the Bangsamoro government?

Chairman Hashim: Yes, with the Bangsamoro government.

Sen. Bam: Which the MNLF can also participate in in the election?

Chairman Hashim: Yes, but there is a pre-condition about that, meaning that the MNLF have a voice in the ongoing peace talks and a representation in the future government.

Sen. Bam: I agree there that the MILF should be a part of the transition authority. But I want to go into specifics. Iyong wealth sharing po sa BBL, technically mas aggressive kaysa sa Tripoli Agreement. Ano po iyong mga aspeto ng BBL na nade-dehado with regard to the Tripoli Agreement?

Chairman Hashim: On the BBL, on the form of government, we are opposed to that. That is offering more section of the Bangsamoro Republic providing them another form of government, federal.

In our own view, it would have been better, the Constitution be amended and have a federal form of government in the whole of the Philippines, and not that certain area which is supposed to be handed to the MILF.

Sen. Bam: A lot of senators are also supporting that call na kapag nagkaroon ng constitutional change ay mag-move to a federal form of government but I just want to understand, is the opposition with regard to form or regards to benefits?

Chairman Hashim: With regard to the form of government. We are not ready to go to a federal form of government that will entail troubles in the future.

We have a presidential form of government, why a certain part of the territory of the Philippines be given federalism.

There seem to be a conflict there. If you want a federal form of government, why not amend the Philippine Constitution, change the system from presidential to parliamentary form of government.

Kung magkakaroon ka noon, walang masasaktan diyan. So it will set the whole citizens of the Republic of the Philippines from Luzon to Sulu.

Sen. Bam: Ang concern ho natin is really the representation. Is it the powers and benefits or it's the representation?

Chairman Hashim: Sa representation. Ok na ang benefits assuming na magkakaroon nga. Out of appeal is still is kung maaari lang, but I know it is highly improbable, if not impossible, tuloy na tuloy ang BBL, considering the support of the President behind the passage of the BBL. Mas mabuti siguro na tanggalin lahat ng provision which are contrary to the Constitution.

Sen. Bam: I think the reason why we are having hearings is so that we can decide later on kung ano po ang final form po nito. Ako, personally, I'm trying to really look at the provisions kung mayroong unconstitutional o mayroon nakakatanggal sa mga dapat na ibigay na kapangyarihan para sa mga kapatid nating Muslim o sa Bangsamoro.

The concern with the Tripoli Agreement is that the form as stated in the BBL, sa tingin niyo, hindi siya ang tamang porma.

Pero pagdating sa kapangyarihan at benefits na ibinibigay sa Bangsamoro, mukhang sapat naman po ang mga kapangyarihang ito?

Chairman Hashim: Sapat po iyon pero ang problema diyan, this BBL is selective in favor of a chosen few.

Sen. Bam: We take that into consideration. Ako, I can assure you that we are studying the provisions on how make it more inclusive, which I think all of the senators, are hoping for.

(To OPAPP USEC Jose Lorena) May I ask OPAPP, by passing this law, are we abrogating the Tripoli Agreement? Or is that an interpretation that the Supreme Court may decide o nabale-wala po talaga ang agreement na iyon?

USEC Lorena: We are not abrogating the agreement, whether the 1976 Tripoli Agreement or the 1986 Final Peace Agreement. I would like to put on record the Tripoli Agreement was just a framework agreement.

From Item 1, Section 1 to Section 16, the Tripoli Agreement, there were really provisions which say that these provisions will be discussed by a mixed committee. So there was no finality in the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement.

Sen. Bam: Usec, you're saying hindi ito treaty?

Usec sLorena: Article 2 provides that all treaties are part of the law of the land. So that is subject to amendments because there is a case in Abbas vs Comelec and the Supreme Court has already decided that the agreements can be amended by Congress because it is part of the law of the land. But there is also an implication there that these agreements were not treaties. So that's the one I like to put in.

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