Whatever was in ARMM law, BBL will enhance — Zubiri
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said the bicameral conference committee tasked to harmonize Congress’ versions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has reached a consensus: they will enhance the powers given to the Bangsamoro under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) law.
Zubiri, one of the chairpersons of the committee, said on Monday, “We also reached the consensus that whatever was in the ARMM law, Republic Act 9054, we will retain and hopefully enact.”
“In other words, we don’t want an ARMM minus, we want an ARMM plus… that actually is both appreciated by both the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” Zubiri said at the sidelines of the committee deliberations on the disagreeing provisions of House Bill (HB) 6475 and Senate Bill (HB) 1717.
Ghazali Jaafar, chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and vice-chairperson of the MILF central committee, said the Bangsamoro people would not accept a BBL that is watered-down or provides weaker powers than the ARMM.
“Let’s say it this way, generally I don’t think people on the ground can accept at this point in time a BBL that is watered down… Ano’ng conditions na sa tingin (namin) watered-down ang BBL? Kung ito ay mas mababa sa ARMM,” said Jaafar, who is also present at the committee deliberations.
Issue of taxes
Zubiri said the panel also agreed to accept the House version on the Bangsamoro governments’ share in taxes of the national government.
Under section 11 of HB 6475, national government taxes, fees, and charges collected in the Autonomous Region in the Bangsamoro, other than tariff, and customs duties, shall be shared as follows:
- 25 percent to the national government, and
- 75 percent to the Bangsamoro, including the shares of the local government units.
Zubiri said the panel also agreed to retain the Bangsamoro’s territorial jurisdiction stated under the ARMM law.
“These are already clearly indicated in the ARMM law, original ARMM law, we need to restore in this version,” he said.
Under the ARMM Law, aside from the geographical area of the ARMM, inland waters, Bangsamoro waters are also part of the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction.
Zubiri said he would suggest before the panel the MILF and MNLF proposal that the Bangsamoro waters shall extend up to 22 kilometers (km) from the low-water marks of the coasts.
“Personally, I tend to accept the House version when it comes to territorial waters. The house version is 19 km. There’s an appeal by the MILF and MNLF… that we increase it to 22 km. I will make that appeal on the table and let’s see what the House would say because ako, I want to give them liberty,” Zubiri said.
The committee will conduct its meetings from Monday, July 9, to Friday, July 13, at Crowne Plaza on Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City.
Both chambers of Congress aim to ratify the harmonized version of the BBL on the morning of July 23, and subsequently submit it to President Rodrigo Duterte in the afternoon for signing, in time for his third State of the Nation Address. with reports from Syrah Vivien Inocencio, Intern, INQUIRER.net
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