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Santiago cautioned on making sweeping statements on BBL

/ 03:48 PM May 21, 2015

DAVAO CITY – Peace advocates in Mindanao told Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to avoid “issuing sweeping statements” about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without first hearing other voices.

“It is incumbent upon our legislators to consider thoroughly pieces of legislation that have a significant impact on our country and its people such as the BBL. Part of that due diligence is listening to various voices pertaining to an issue,” reminded Candido Aparece, spokesperson of the Mindanao Civil Society Organizations Platform for Peace (MCSOPP).

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“We have high respect for Sen. Santiago. We also hope she respects the opinion of other people given the importance of the legislation at hand,” Aparece added.

In a news release on Thursday, Santiago raised serious issues against the BBL saying the new autonomous entity it sought to establish could only happen through charter change.

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This came a day after the House ad hoc committee on the BBL approved a substitute version to House Bill No. 4994, which contained the original draft of the measure.

The measure, as amended at the committee level, is now dubbed the Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. It is set for transmittal to the House plenary with Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez expressing confidence they will be able to muster a House version by June 11.

When enacted and ratified by voters in affected localities, the Basic Law will lead to the abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, said that changing the name of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “will not make it any less objectionable unless Congress also revamps the bill to address numerous constitutional infirmities.”

“The words ‘basic law’ are attached to the name. ‘Basic law,’ in legal construction, is a synonym for ‘constitutional law’ and ‘organic law,'” the senator said, citing her committee report on the BBL draft, pending as Senate Bill No. 2408.

“It goes without saying that two different constitutional instruments cannot have legal effect at the same time and in the same territory. The proposed BBL must be consistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Philippines,” she added.

The 27-page Santiago report is based on two public hearings on the draft BBL, where resource persons included former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban; Associate Justices Florentino Feliciano and Vicente Mendoza; and former UP law dean Merlin Magallona.

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“Here lies the crux of the matter. The Santiago report only considered the voices of personalities opposing the BBL,” Aparece pointed out.

“Sen. Santiago should have considered the perspective of the Citizens Peace Council, especially former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and former Commission on Elections Chair Christian Monsod who said the BBL is generally compliant with the 1987 Constitution,” said Aparece.

Both Davide and Monsod are framers of the 1987 Constitution.

Davide is a member of the Peace Council created by President Aquino to do an independent study of the BBL while Monsod belongs to the civil society formation Friends of Peace which is headed by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, archbishop of Cotabato.

“It will be a fatal flaw of our legislators to be blindsided when considering the BBL,” said Salic Ibrahim of the nongovernment group Maranao People’s Development Center.

Santiago’s news release said that aside from her, senators who signed the report include committee vice chair Sonny Angara, and members Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos, Aquino Pimentel, Tito Sotto, and Cynthia Villar.

Santiago added that Senators Lito Lapid and Ralph Recto are set to sign the report on Monday, May 25.

The 27-page document is one of three committee reports that will form the Senate’s position on the BBL. The two others will come from the committee on local government, the primary committee, and the committee on peace, unification, and reconciliation.

In a news release on Wednesday, Marcos said that the expected Senate amendments on the BBL would focus on “provisions on constitutional bodies, the so-called ‘opt-in provision’ and the provision on Bangsamoro police.” ABC

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, News, peace process, Regions
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