Joint Public Hearing of Senate Subcommittee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law at Dimaporo Gymnasium, MSU, Marawi City Photo by: BTC Secretariat

BBL Gains Massive Support from Marawi Siege Victims, other towns

Marawi City –During the 3rd Senate Joint Public Hearing on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on January 26, 2018, at Mindanao State University Gymnasium, former Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner (BTC) Commissioner Samira Gutoc-Tomawis in her message stressed, “Policing is one of the most important provisions in the BBL that could guarantee public safety.” 

“Policing is legal, not unconstitutional that could serve as the first protectors of the people in times of terrorist attacks, and mandated to enforce public order and safety in times of war and peace.”, she added.

Upon hearing these words, people inside the gymnasium chanted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great).

Gotoc-Tomawis narrated the pains, and sacrifices they have undergone during the ISIS-inspired Maute Group siege of Marawi due to a very limited number of police force in the city. 

“We are sure 100% that policing in the Bangsamoro could serve the public interest to address the rampant proliferation of illegal drugs’ trading, syndicated crime, radicalism, and terrorism within the Bangsamoro territory”, Gotoc-Tomawis emotionally said.

Senator Juan Miguel “Migs” Zubiri, Chairman, Sub-Committee on BBL emphasized the importance of the passage of BBL as he welcomed the guests, LGUs, CSOs leaders, and thousands of BBL supporters who hailed from the adjacent municipalities of the two provinces of Lanao del Sur, and Lanao del Norte. 

Senator Zubiri acknowledged one-by-one the names of the sectoral representatives, and leaders of CSO federations, and LGUs and gave them a chance to express their comments, or suggestions on the BBL.

Before the public hearing started, Zubiri, and his delegation of lawmakers visited the “ground zero” in Marawi City purposely to see for themselves the wrath of war brought about by the Maute terrorist group that laid siege on the city. 

Senator Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources said, “I came here not only for the public hearing on the BBL but to see personally what really happened in Marawi City”.  

Marawi siege would serve as basis that we should assert all efforts to prevent the same from happening, she added. 

Senator JV Ejercito reiterated that as former mayor of San Juan City, he has proven for many years that Muslims, and Christians can live together harmoniously as business partners.  

Senator Bam Aquino viewed the “ground zero” as a big challenge to the senators to heal the wounds of war caused by the Maute terrorist group. “I’ve seen the damages inflicted on Marawi City that need  immediate concern, and rehabilitation by the national government. 

 “Narito kami hindi para magsasalita sa harap niyo. Kundi, narito po kami para magtrabaho at pakinggan ang inyong mga boses”, Aquino said.

Zubiri called the first respondent, Congressman Khalid Dimaporo, 2nd District of Lanao del Norte. He asked for his comments, and suggestions considering the fact that 6 municipalities in his district are included in the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro. 

Dimaporo categorically pointed out that he was not consulted by the Joint Senate Committee on BBL led by Senator Zubiri for the inclusion of the 6 municipalities in the Bangsamoro, unlike the incident in 2013 where MILF attacked the towns of Valencia and Wao. 

Senator Villar interrupted by saying, Congressman Dimaporo; we are now in the healing process, and that nicident you have mentioned is part of this healing process, Villar said. 

Dimaporo pointed out that since there is a BBL provision allowing contiguous areas to join in the Bangsamoro through the petition of at least 10% of the qualified voters where the constituents in affected areas shall be asked in a plebiscite, then, why not wait for that process, and let the six municipalities in my province excluded during the plebiscite?

You mean Congressman Dimaporo, you did not want the six municipalities to be included in the Bangsamoro core territory? Zubiri asked. Yes, Dimaporo, replied. 

BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar explained that the 6 municipalities in Lanao del Norte included in the core territory does not meant that they automatically become a territory of the Bangsamo. The people of the 6 municipalities is subject for plebiscitary, whether they want to be included in the Bangsamoro or not? 

They are given a “freedom of choice” as mandated in the Bill of Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the BBL, Jaafar stressed. 

To resolve the issue, Zubiri asked (Dimaporo) if anybody among the 6 municipal mayors who are present to hear from them personally their stand in the coming plebiscite issue whether they want to join in the core territory or not. 

The municipal mayor of Munai was first to react by saying:  “I was elected by the people of Munai municipality, I could not decide alone for their own interest”. But let us respect their decision that they want to join in the core territory of the Bansamoro, and let it be, the mayor said.   

The municipal Mayor of Nunungan municipality stood up, and said: “I was a representative of my people when they elected me as the Chief Executive of this town. They held a consultation for this purposes, and come up with a decision to join in the core territory, and that’s their final stand, and I will respect their decision, the Mayor said. 

Unnoticeably, Congressman Dimaporo disappeared from his seat due to embarrassment.

Zubiri related his observation that while in Sabah sometimes ago, he saw from a few distance the island province Sulu. Sabah is very progressive with similar environs with the Bangsamoro. 

“This is my vision for the immediate passage of the BBL in Congress that Bangsamoro would become more progressive place than Sabah”, Zubiri said.