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BBL bicam panel agrees on extent of Bangsamoro waters

/ 07:23 PM July 17, 2018

The bicameral conference committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) have agreed that the Bangsamoro waters in the Sulu Sea and Moro Gulf would extend up to 19 kilometers from the low-water mark at the coasts that are part of the Bangsamoro territory.

This is a few kilometers short of the 22.224 kilometers (12 nautical miles) proposal of the BTC, under their draft BBL.

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The BTC’s version specified that aside from the geographical area of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the inland waters and Bangsamoro waters are also part of the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction.

But BTC Chair Ghazali Jaafar, in an interview at the sidelines of the bicameral panel deliberations on the BBL on Tuesday, said the agreement was acceptable to them.

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READ: Whatever was in ARMM law, BBL will enhance — Zubiri

Earlier in the day, last minute concerns of the BTC temporarily halted the ongoing final review of the BBL, now renamed the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro in the ARMM (BARMM). The panel is expected to approve on Tuesday the reconciled versions of House Bill 6475 and Senate Bill 1717.

READ: Bicam expected to approve reconciled BBL bill Tuesday

Members of the bicameral panel and the BTC held a caucus to discuss some contending issues which both panels said were just “minor.”

Aside from agreeing on the extent of the Bangsamoro waters, both camps have agreed to refrain from mentioning the phrase “subject to the provisions of the national laws” in the BBL.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, a co-chair of the panel, said they decided to make another provision, under the General Principles and Policies, which generally states that the BBL would be subject to the provisions of the 1987 Constitution and other national laws.

“It’s a simple amendment and both sides agreed… They have to sell this to the Bangsamoro people… They’re ticklish on the issue that it continuously mentions the word ‘national laws’ in each and every paragraph and each and every article,” Zubiri told reporters.

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“So we agreed just one general provision that says that it is under the… of course, within the context of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and national laws and this organic act. One provision na lang para hindi paulit-ulit (so it is not repetitive),” he added. /ee

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

Jaafar said they raised the issue because the said phrases are no longer needed.

“Iba naging pananaw namin dun dahil baka po magiging, magkaka-problema po kami sa future parliament ngunit naresolve naman ang issue at tanggap ng magkabilang panig ang resolution (We have differing views because we may encounter problems regarding this with the future parliament, but we already resolved the issue and both panels have accepted the resolution),” Jaafar said.

“Sa tingin namin hindi na kinakailangan sapagkat nandyan naman ang Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas, Philippine Constitution na nirerespeto nating lahat (We think those phrases are no longer necessary because we can all refer to the Constitution, which we all respect),” he said.

The BTC head added that as of today, they are “100 percent satisfied” with the bicameral panel version of the BBL.

Zubiri, meanwhile, said they would try to finalize everything until Tuesday evening. “I will try it today. If there are no hiccups like this one and I think we can do this by today,” he said. /ee

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Bangsamoro waters, bicameral conference panel, BTC Chair Ghadzali Jaafar, Organic Law for the Bangsamoro in the ARMM (BARMM)
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