Gov’t to retain control of Bangsamoro defense
MANILA, Philippines–The defense and security of the proposed Bangsamoro territory will remain with the national government, officials assured lawmakers on Tuesday.
The question of who would retain control of the defense and internal and external security of the Bangsamoro entity was raised at the public hearing held by the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the House of Representatives.
Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the House defense and security committee, questioned officials from the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines on the extent of the national government’s control over the Bangsamoro territory.
He cited a section in Article 5 of the draft bill that says the national government would maintain authority over the “defense and external security” of the Bangsamoro territory, which appears to imply that internal security would be the responsibility of the Bangsamoro political entity.
But Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino said another key provision in Article 11 of the bill expressly states that “defense and security shall be the responsibility of the central government.”
“Is this cured by [that] provision?” asked Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee on the BBL. Batino replied in the affirmative.
Defense Assistant Secretary Danilo Francia said this was further clarified in the BBL annex on normalization, one of whose matrices specifies that the Bangsamoro police would only be responsible for “public order and safety.”
Biazon also wondered about a provision which states that the Bangsamoro chief minister “may request the President to call upon the Armed Forces in cases of imminent danger, rebellion, etc.”
“Who determines the conditions upon which the President may decide to intervene on issues of national security, the chief minister or the President?” he asked.
Batino replied: “Based on existing provisions of the BBL, the concerns on defense and security are still exclusively lodged with the President.”
Brig. Gen. Angelito de Leon, chief of AFP Command Center, said the Western Mindanao Command had the option of creating another command within the Bangsamoro territory, but “it will depend on the operational situation prevailing” in the area and on whether there’s a need to reconfigure its forces there.
Biazon asked the defense officials about the “misperception” entertained by some people that AFP elements within the Bangsamoro entity “will have to go back to the barracks.”
Francia said, “Actually, it depends on the situation. The situation in normal times is to go back to the barracks.”
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