Press Release
May 27, 2015


Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III on Wednesday called for revisions in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will ensure the consistency of its provisions with the Constitution and the protection of minority communities living in the areas covered by the planned autonomous region.

Sen. Guingona bared his proposal to amend part of the preamble of the draft BBL which currently refers to the aspiration of "the Bangsamoro People."

Sen. Guingona said this should instead read as "the inhabitants of the Bangsamoro,"a phrase which ensures "inclusiveness" and the "clear and unequivocal protection of the rights of non-muslim Filipinos" in that region.

"There are communities of indigenous and non-Muslim peoples in the areas proposed under the Bangsamoro," he pointed out. "The BBL in its final form must ensure that they are treated equally and that their right to life, liberty and property are respected even if they are a minority," he explained.

Sen. Guingona said this is also the reason why he is proposing the deletion of the third paragraph of the Preamble of the draft BBL which proclaimed the concept of "self-determination."

He said he believes such word has been "misused" since what is guaranteed by the Constitution is territorial autonomy and "not ethnic autonomy."

"Besides, the right of self-determination is already recognized under the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act which applies to all people who live in the planned autonomous region whether or not they are Muslims," Sen. Guingona explained.

He expressed concern that the use of "self-determination" in the current draft "tends to exclude non-Muslim communities" which is "a mistake we must not repeat and perpetuate."

Sen. Guingona also bared that he is proposing the use of the words "within the framework of the constitution" in the preamble of the draft BBL. The phrase replaces the words "in consonance with the constitution" in the current draft.

"This emphasizes that the BBL is clearly intended to be consistent with the constitution of the Republic," Sen. Guingona said.

He had earlier warned that an "unconstitutional" BBL can delay the plebiscite where it will be ratified, and may result in more instability in the region.

"We cannot allow the further erosion of the people's trust in the peace process by letting the BBL fail the challenges and test of constitutionality," Sen. Guingona said.

"The Constitution remains the foundation of the peace process and the aspiration for an autonomous Bangsamoro," he underscored.

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