BBL proves there's no need for federalism in PH— Drilon

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Bill sponsor and author, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 18) — Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon argued Wednesday that there is no need for the Philippines to shift to a federal system of government to achieve regional empowerment.

He said that once passed, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would prove that amending the constitution is no longer needed as extensive power and autonomy will be given to Muslim Mindanao.

"Hindi po kailangan ang federal system," Drilon said in an interview with DZMM. "Walang rason kung bakit (kailangan) baguhin ang ating Saligang Batas para mabigyan ng mas malawak na kapangyarihan at salapi ang ating mga rehiyon."

[Translation: We do not need a federal system. There is no reason for us to change the constitution to give extensive power and funds to the country's regions.]

Drilon noted that once the law is ratified, 5 percent of the national budget from 2016-2018 will be given to the proposed Bangsamoro body. He added that the Bangsamoro government will also have the power to impose its own taxes.

With this, the senator said, self-governance can be achieved without federalism.

"Iyan po (BBL) ang pruweba na kayang gawin sa kasalukuyang administrasyon, sa kasalukuyang Saligang Batas ang ibig nilang gawin sa federal system, without amending the constitution."

[Translation: The BBL is proof that what they want to do in the federal system can be done in the current administration, without amending the constitution.]

Drilon added that the 1987 Constitution will allow internal revenue allotment to strengthen governance in other regions of the country.

The minority leader also voiced out his concern on the proposed charter change, saying that officials wanted a deliberate postponement of the next elections.

"Sa aking tingin, ang layunin nitong charter change ay para hindi po magkaroon o ma-postpone ang halalan, para manatili ang mga nakaupo."

[Translation: In my opinion, the purpose of charter change is for the elections to be postponed, so that officials will remain on their posts.]

As of writing, the bicameral conference committee continues to harmonize the remaining provisions of the BBL.

Once signed into law, the BBL will make way for the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Bangsamoro, which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734.

The BBL outlines authority in the region by assigning jurisdiction of reserved powers for the central government, exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro government, and concurrent powers for both the Central and Bangsamoro governments.

Meanwhile, the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution released the final draft of the proposed shift to federalism on Tuesday.