Marcos’ BBL version strengthens dynastic rule in Bangsamoro
OZAMIZ CITY, Philippines – The version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) presented by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last week could strengthen dynastic rule in the region and defeat efforts to reform the political dynamics of Muslim-dominated provinces.
This is the main observation of the Mindanao Civil Society Organizations Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) about Senate Bill (SB) 2894, the substitute to SB 2408, which contained the original draft of the measure submitted to Congress.
The substitute bill was produced by Marcos, who chairs the committee on local governments which, in turn, is the lead Senate body that considered the measure.
The BBL seeks to establish a new autonomous entity that would replaces and would have greater powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in a bid to address the Moro people’s clamor for meaningful self-governance and end decades of the Moro rebellion.
In a paper detailing its observations on SB 2894, the MCSOPP noted the “radical change in the allocation of seats in the Bangsamoro parliament,” which would “alter the intended design of political administration and governance in the Bangsamoro.”
This is contained in Article VII, which provides for the structure and form of the Bangsamoro government.
The Bangsamoro parliament is envisioned to be a body composed of 60 members. In the Marcos version, 40 of them should be representatives of every parliamentary district, eight from parties who win seats through a system of proportional representation, and 12 from sectors given reserved seats.
“The original BBL draft gave premium on party representation by allocating 50 percent of parliament seats for it, as against district representation which is given only 40 percent,” the MCSOPP noted.
“District seats are prone to local dynastic capture hence allocating the bulk of parliament seats for this ensures the perpetuation of elite control of the Bangsamoro government. In SB 2894, district representatives will comprise two-thirds of total parliament seats,” said Samsodin Amella, chair of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC).
“The system of proportional representation could provide a political space for platform-based parties to thrive. And platform-based parties are what we need for good governance not just in the Bangsamoro but throughout the country,” Amella added.
“If made available, such space should be an opening for Moro revolutionary groups to participate in the political and governance processes of the region,” explained MCSOPP spokesperson Candido Aparece.
Aparece recalled that the absence of enough political space hindered the effective transition of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from a revolutionary to a democratic political machine even after signing the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with government in 1996.
“Even as many MNLF leaders became politicians and won elective seats, many also found it hard to sail their ideals through the electoral exercise when confronted with entrenched local dynasties,” said Aparece.
He noted that MNLF leaders were able to hold the reins of the ARMM from 1996 to 2005 largely because “they were ordained” by the national leadership.
Following the forging of the FPA, President Fidel Ramos engineered the victory of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari in the 1996 regional polls by making sure there was no other candidate for ARMM governor.
During the watch of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the administration party backed and successfully installed another MNLF leader, Parouk Hussin, for the ARMM top post.
Another major amendment introduced by Marcos into the BBL is the non-dissolution of the Bangsamoro parliament within the elective term of its members.
In the original draft, the parliament can be dissolved through a vote of no confidence on the so-called government of the day. Such vote of no confidence will then trigger a new round of parliamentary elections, and those elected will have to choose a new Chief Minister to run the government.
The no-confidence vote should account for two-thirds of the entire parliament, that is, 40 members.
In Marcos’ version, the vote of no confidence will result in the Chief Minister being removed from office, returning to his/her seat in parliament. The rest of the government officials will continue to function until a new Chief Minister is chosen and has appointed a new set of cabinet members.
This was the same recommendation offered by the Citizen’s Peace Council that President Aquino organized to do an independent due diligence on the BBL draft.
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