Gloria Arroyo proposes new version of BBL

President Rodrigo Duterte and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo share a light moment during a courtesy visit in Malacañang on November 28, 2016. KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo © Manila Bulletin

Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has filed her own version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in a bid “to achieve just and lasting peace for a unified nation,” as what President Rodrigo Duterte had called in his second State of the Nation Address.

In her House Bill 6121 or the proposed “Basic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Arroyo aims to enact a new law replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that “truly reflects the aspirations of our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the indigenous brethren, representation to Indigenous Peoples, women, the sultanates, and other key stakeholders.”

Under her proposed measure, a new political division called “Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” (BAR) will be created and will consist of the present geographical area of the ARMM.

This will include Cotabato and Isabela City in Basilan, and any province or city contiguous and outside the geographical area of the current ARMM where there is a local government unit resolution or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters asking for their inclusion two months before the plebiscite of the Basic Law for the BAR and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro geographical area.

The Bangsamoro Regional Government (BRG), with a parliamentary system of government, will have the right for self-governance even though it remains part of the Philippines.

The BRG will be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament headed by the Chief Minister duly elected by a majority vote of all members of the Parliament.

The Chief Minister will also appoint a Deputy Minister, also coming from the Parliament.

The Parliament, meanwhile, will be composed of at least 60 members representing political parties elected through a system of proportional representation, those elected from single-member districts and to reserved or sectoral seats representing key sectors.

Parliament seats for IPs

Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples will also have reserved seats at the Parliament, pursuant to their customary laws.

Members of the Parliament will serve for a period of three years and must not serve for more than three consecutive terms.

A member of the Parliament should be a natural-born Filipino citizen, at least 25 years old on the day of the election, able to read and write, a registered voter of the BAR, and resident of the region for a period of not less than three years immediately before the election day.

“The National Government and the Bangsamoro Regional Government shall be guided by the principles of accepted norms of good governance and parity of esteem,” Arroyo said.

“In exercising its sovereignty, the National Government shall give due consideration to the distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures of all the inhabitants in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” she added.

Shared power

Under the proposal, the National Government and the BRG will exercise shared powers within the region on:

  • social security and pensions;
  • quarantine;
  • pollution control;
  • human rights and humanitarian protection and promotion;
  • auditing;
  • civil service;
  • coastguard;
  • customs and tariff;
  • administration of justice;
  • funding for the maintenance of national roads, bridges, and irrigation system;
  • disaster risk reduction and management; and
  • non-Moro ancestral domains/ancestral lands of the Non-Moro indigenous peoples.
  • Meanwhile, exclusive and devolved powers given to the BRG, among others, include:
  • economic and cultural exchange;
  • trade, industry, investment, enterprises and regulation of businesses;
  • labor and employment;
  • barter trade and countertrade with Indonesia, Malaysia or Brunei, subject to existing laws;
  • economic zones and industrial centers;
  • tourism;
  • creation of sources of revenue;
  • budgeting;
  • receive grants and donations;
  • education and skills training;
  • culture and language;
  • sports and recreation;
  • housing and human settlements

To harmonize the relationship of the National Government and the BRG, Arroyo proposed to establish an intergovernmental relations body.

The BRG will likewise have a Council of Leaders, consisting of the Chief Minister as chairman, Provincial Governors, Mayors of chartered cities within the BAR, and representatives from the Non-Moro indigenous communities, women, settler communities, sultanates and other sectors.