Press Release
July 11, 2018

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon at the sidelines of the Bicam hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Drilon:...I would be deliberate rather than be rushed into finishing this in time for the SONA. We will try to finish it before the SONA. But that should not be a deadline. Rather, we should deliberate and study it well, because this is a document that can spell the difference between peace and stability and conflict in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Drilon: There are two major topics left for discussion: the territory and the Shariah law or judicial system. I will head the Senate's small contingent to discuss with our House counterpart the Shariah law. The issue on territory is very sensitive. That will require the plenary of the bicam to tackle it. There are two major topics left. I do not find any difficulty in the administration of justice, the Shariah law. But I can foresee some difficulties in the territory.

Q: Why is there a need to ask for guidance from the President?

Drilon: It will involve some political decisions and the President being the highest political officer would have to decide, if there is a deadlock on this issue and politically, since he is the President, he may have to make a political decision to resolve the deadlock.

Q: Magagamit ba yung persuasive power ni President para doon sa mga kongresista not to oppose?

Drilon: I don't have that assessment. I'm sure he has. It really depends on how he will use his political authority in order to resolve this issue.

Q: Can you walk us through kung gaaano kalayo doon sa territory?

Drilon: The issues are two. Principally, these are the inclusion of six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and the 39 barangays. You see, the arguments are even if this is not contiguous, these are geographical areas under those who would propose for the inclusion of these municipalities. The other issue is, do you determine the result of the plebiscite on the basis of the majority in the province or majority in these municipalities...If three of the five provinces would concur, then you have already a whole autonomous in Muslim Mindanao. So these are legal issues, which we expect to be brought to the Supreme Court. In the meantime before it is brought to the Supreme Court, we should decide it here. So that is where the difficulty is.

Q: Yung sa concurrent reserved power, nag-succeed po yung Senate sa pagtanggal non?

Drilon: Yes. I led the Senate contingent and the House was convinced that that is the better system and the Constitution says that those powers which are not in the Constitution or in the organic law should pertain to the national government. That is what the Constitution says and therefore, what we did is to enumerate the powers of the Bangsamoro government. We deleted the reserved power - so-called- of the central government, because the Constitution says what is not provided for belongs to the national government. We also removed the concurrent powers because it is a prescription to confusion and to delay and to conflict. Concurrence means the power belongs to two agencies: the national and the local or the autonomous region. Does it mean that, the one who will first assume this power will do so to the exclusion of the other? Number two, supposed the two - the national government and the Bangsamoro region- will exercise it at the same time, who will prevail? At the end of the day, it will just cause confusion. I took the position that, let us discuss what power should be devolved to the autonomous region rather than debate on the reserved powers and concurrent powers for two reasons - number one, it is unconstitutional and number two, it will simply cause confusion in the process of making decisions.

Q: So majority tapos na kayo?

Drilon: Again I would request to both panel to over the clean copy and review and review and review until we are satisfied that we have done our work. I don't want to be rushed.

Q: Pero safe to say, aabot ng SONA?

Drilon: That is the desired objective and I do not know what will happen in the next several days. Certainly, I want to be deliberate. -

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