Sotto welcomes removal of anti-political dynasty provision from BBL

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday expressed relief that Congress' bicameral conference committee agreed to remove the anti-political dynasty provision in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will create a more powerful Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

"I'm glad they removed it," Sotto said in a message on Tuesday. "Otherwise we will be disenfranchising the legitimate family members while mistresses and their relatives will be allowed instead because they do not classify under the second degree of consanguinity."

Tasked to resolve the current varying provisions in the Senate and House versions of the bill, the bicameral conference committee rejected the anti-dynasty provision during a closed-door discussion Monday, House Majority Leader Rudy Farinas confirmed.

"It was dropped by the Senate after we cited the flaws of the provision that violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution," Farinas said in a message.

"It's like a law creating a province and imposed a dynasty prohibition only to a certain elective position to the exclusion of the others in that province, in particular, and to the whole country, in general."

Only the Senate version had previously included the said provision, while the House Bill 6475 did not tackle the anti-dynasty issue.

Section 15, Article VII of Senate Bill 1717 states that "No Party Representative should be related within the second (2nd) civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to a District Representative or another Party Representative in the same Parliament."

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who had previously pushed for the inclusion of the anti-political dynasty provision in the draft BBL, did not further defend the issue ''as a form of protest.''

"As a form of protest, I did not argue and push for its adoption anymore because the provision, as crafted, is useless," said Drilon, referring to the anti-dynasty provision that has been watered-down following objections from other lawmakers.

"It is a much weaker provision than that provided in the SK law. Such provision will not really curb dynastic behaviors. In fact, it is a hypocritical provision, toothless to address the ill effects of dynasties. We might as well do away with it," Drilon added.

Instead, the senator said he will push for a wider, national regulation that will include 'all public officials.'

"What we need is a strong regulation of dynasties applicable to all public officers. I already signed a committee report regulating it," Drilon added.

The bicameral committee will hold a weeklong meet to iron out the remaining contrasting provisions of the BBL draft.

Once institutionalized, the BBL will pave the way for the creation of the Autonomous Region in Bangsamoro, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels earlier dropped their decades-long secessionist bid in exchange for broader autonomy. They signed an agreement with the government to establish an autonomous region with more powers and funding for minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

The two chambers expect to pass a report for ratification in the morning of July 23, in time for President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) later that day.