Congress bicameral committee resolves BBL territorial provision dispute

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — The passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “has been assured” after lawmakers resolved the issue regarding territorial provision, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday.

"The President facilitated the passage of the BBL by convincing both Houses of Congress to adopt the House version of the BBL,” Roque said.

He said the provision stated that the six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and the 39 barangays of North Cotabato could vote to join the Bangsamoro region through a referendum conducted in the mother territories.

Senator Miguel Zubiri said they agreed to compromise to avoid issues of constitutionality in the proposed measure.

“So as not to be struck down by the Supreme Court on that provision, the consensus was to adopt the House version on territory. As a good soldier, as that was the direction given, then I submit,” Zubiri said.

The BBL will pave the way for the creation of the Autonomous Region in the Bangsamoro to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734. The ARMM consists of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

With the final contested provision already resolved, Zubiri said the 29-member panel would try to finalize the bill Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, the committee reached a stalemate over the included territories in the new region.

On Wednesday, members of the bicameral conference committee met with President Rodrigo Duterte in a bid to break the deadlock.

The Subcommittee on Territory and Plebiscite is composed of Zubiri, Senator Edgardo Angara, House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Lanao del Norte Representatives Khalid Dimaporo and Abdullah Dimaporo, and Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat.

Bangsamoro groups buck watered-down BBL

Various Bangsamoro groups advocating peace and development in Mindanao expressed their discontent Wednesday over what was happening to the proposed BBL.

They denounced the so-called “diluted BBL” as it removed or changed vital provisions in the proposed law, including the generation, transmission, and distribution of inland waters and electricity.

Drieza Laninding of Bangsamoro group Insiders Mediators said Lanao Lake and Agus River play vital roles in the generation of 60 percent of electricity in Mindanao.

However, there are still a lot of areas in the region that do not have access to electricity, and only one percent of its income goes to the local government.

That's why the groups said they were hoping lawmakers will allow the Bangsamoro to have control over generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.

"Pag tatanggalin po at hindi mareresolve yung inland waters sa power ng Bangsamoro, at hindi marestore ang provision on power to regulate power generation, transmission, and distribution, hindi po kami susuporta sa pangangampanya para sa BBL. Pero hindi po kami kokontra sa BBL," he said.

[Translation: If the issue on inland waters is removed and not resolved by the power of the Bangsamoro, and the provisions on power to regulate power generation, transmission, and distribution, we will not support the campaign for the BBL. But we will not block the BBL.]

They also lobbied for the Bangsamoro to have full power over the police, as they said this is vital in achieving peace.

"Kung ang BBL na aaprubahan ng Kongreso ay hindi compliant sa CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), kami po ang unang-unang mananawagan sa MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) at sambayanang Bangsamoro na wag po itong tanggapin...Walang katuturan kung ito ay tanggapin sapagkat hindi rin ito magbubunga ng tunay na kapayapaan," Assalam Bangsamoro People's Association President Pendatun Disimban said

[Translation: If Congress approves a BBL that isn't compliant with the CAB, we will be the first to call on the MILF and the Bangsamoro people to not accept it. It will be useless to accept it because it will not result in real peace.]

CNN Philippines' David Santos, Gerg Cahiles, Pia Garcia, and Ver Marcelo contributed to this report.