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Bicam expected to approve reconciled BBL bill Tuesday

/ 07:42 PM July 16, 2018

The bicameral conference committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is set to resume on Tuesday its discussions on the measure and approve Congress’ reconciled versions of the bills.

Jointly presided by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, the bicameral panel is expected to end its debates on the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 6475 and Senate Bill 1717.

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The debates started on July 9 and suspended deliberations of the law’s 18 articles past midnight last Friday, July 13.

Fariñas earlier said they would immediately forward the reconciled BBL version to President Rodrigo Duterte for his consideration.

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If Duterte approves that final BBL version, Fariñas said both chambers of Congress would have it ratified in plenary when they convene their third regular session on July 23, at 10:00 a.m., for it to be signed into law by the President on or before his State of the Nation Address at 4:00 p.m.

READ: Congress ends BBL deliberations; final version out soon

Last Thursday, the panel also adopted Article X or the Bangsamoro Justice System.

Article X provides for the creation of a Shari’ah high court, among others, and its powers. The measure provides for the addition of Shari’ah high, district, and circuit courts to regular courts within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro.

The article also confers to the Bangsamoro Parliament the power to enact laws on personal, family, and property law jurisdiction.

Shari’ah courts may also enact laws on commercial, other civil action not provided for under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, and on minor crimes punishable by Ta’zir under Shari’ah law.

READ: BBL bicam approves proposed Bangsamoro justice system

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The committee further settled differences in the sections of Article XVII, which provide conditions for amendments and revisions to the BBL.

It states that Congress may propose amendments or revisions, and the enacted changes would become effective upon approval by a majority vote of qualified voters in the region in a plebiscite called for the purpose.

On Article XVIII, or the Final Provisions, the panel deliberated on the repealing clause that states all laws, decrees, orders, rules, and regulations, and other issuances inconsistent with the BBL are repealed or modified accordingly.

In a press statement on Monday, Fariñas said amendment of the section would ensure that the transition of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the new Bangsamoro region would be “seamless and obviate any gap in the government service.”

Salient discussions also zeroed-in on contentious provisions throughout the proposed measure, fine-tuning and polishing piecemeal sections previously tabled by the panel.

READ: Zubiri: Bicam agrees in 3 crucial BBL provision

These include provisions on what comprise the scope of the Bangsamoro government, particularly contiguous territorial jurisdiction as well as inland and Bangsamoro waters.

READ: Bicam agrees to specify powers of Bangsamoro gov’t

The panel further discussed the power, authority, and right of the Bangsamoro government to explore, develop, and utilize the natural resources, nature reserves, and protected areas in its territorial jurisdiction.

Under the approved provision, the national government and Bangsamoro should jointly have the power to grant rights, privileges, and concessions over the exploration, development, and utilization of fossil fuels and uranium in the region.

READ: Bicam OKs Senate version on Bangsamoro-DOE power sharing on energy dev’t

Provisions on transportation and telecommunications were also reviewed, establishing the functions and powers the Bangsamoro and national governments must coordinate on.

The committee also tackled the disposition of personnel as the government transitions, according to the statement.

As the ratification of the BBL deems offices of the ARMM abolished, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority would be tasked with scheduling the gradual phasing out of the concerned offices.

Officials holding appointive positions would continue to perform their functions based on the schedule set.

The funds for benefits and entitlements of affected employees in the region would meanwhile be provided by the national government.   /vvp

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