Drilon interpellates Zubiri on Bangsamoro Basic Law

QUEZON CITY - Senate Minority Floor Leader Senator Franklin Drilon said that the practice and tradition in the Senate, the minority floor leader will be the last to interpellate but he said as a matter of cooperation to the majority group and to consider the urgency of the measure with the request of the Senate President he would proceed to avail the period of interpellation.

“Our commendation to good sponsor Senator Migs Zubiri for the effort that he has put in trying to put together this committee report.  This is not an easy piece of legislation. It is very complicated and, as we all know, previous version of this measure starting with the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” Drilon said during the interpellation period Wednesday. 

Drilon said that he wanted to clarify and suggest amendments cleansing the bill so that the proposed law will not face the same fate as the MOA-AD when it reaches the Supreme Court.

The senate minority floor leader asked his preliminary questions on RA 9054 and RA 6734 if it will be repealed by the new Bangsamoro law and Senator Zubiri replied “that is correct Mr. President.”

Drilon also clarified what powers, duties and rights are going to be transferred. 

Zubiri said that they are trying to achieve an autonomous region whose powers are not lesser than that of the present ARMM. “We are making sure that the BBL in its final form will not be less powerful than the existing ARMM,” Zubiri stressed. 

Among other concern clarified in the proposed measure was why it is called “Bangsamoro Basic Law,” and the etymology of the terms “Bangsa”, and “Bangsamoro”. 

Zubiri said “Bangsa” is a Malay term which mean “a nation, a territory, governance and culture.”

“We are putting this in our system and not to debate on this issue but just to put it into record that indeed we are adopting word not even Filipino, but I said I will not insist on this,” Drilon said.

In the Bangsamoro territory, Senate President Koko Pimentel added, there are Bangsamoro and non-Bangsamoro. 

On the Section 1 of Article 2, Pimentel said that “it needs to be consistent to historical point of view of the Sulu Sultanate, that once upon a time part of Sulu Sultanate because they want to give the descendants the right to choose to identify themselves as Bangsamoro.”  

The ascription or self-ascription was also clarified by Senate President Pimentel. 

Zubiri said upon consultation with his legal team and the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) around him, “When you say by-Self-ascription it is the identity be given to you for example if you are lumad, you are lumad; if you are Bisaya, Bisaya; if you are Ilongo, Ilongo; Ilocano, Ilocano.”

“By self-ascription what you want to be called or how you want to be identified,” said Zubiri.

In the later part of interpellation, Zubiri said the BBL is only part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). 

“The CAB is a peace agreement signed by government, the CAB may serve as guiding, clarifying some of the provisions of the BBL,” he said.

Zubiri said “CAB is the larger document than the BBL, the BBL is only part of the agreement on the Bangsamoro.” 

“The CAB is the mother of all agreements entered into by the government and the larger Moro rebel group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Southern Philippines,” he said.

Zubiri had underscored that there are several phases and steps to achieve the final phases of the CAB. 

“This is in the last phase, the third phase Mr. President which is a unilateral movement of the government to create political set up, to give the political solution and after which de-militarization and decommissioning and normalization will happen,” Zubiri said.  

Drilon also asked if the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is endorsing the BBL. Zubiri said they are in fact members of MNLF in the current BTC composition.

MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari was also mentioned in the interpellation if he is endorsing the measure. Zubiri indirectly answered the question by saying that when Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will run it affairs, the MNLF will be properly represented.

“Ang gusto kasi ni Brother Nur is that not only the CAB even also of the signed agreement on the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, medyo malawak po yung sa kanya but all of those are already addressed in the Republic Act 9054 and now enhanced by the BBL,” Zubiri said further.

Zubiri thanked the senate by its bi-partisan support by pushing the interpellation with a note that once the Bangsamoro government will be established it will flush-out the violent radical groups; it boost economic development of the region, peace stability and many people who reside in the core areas will be proud to say and be identified as Bangsamoro.

On the other hand, Duma Mascud of the Sustainable Initiative of Grassroots and Networks for Bangsamoro Basic Law (SIGN-BBL) movement is delighted by the result of the two separate hearings of both chambers of the House.

“This positive development in the House of Representatives and the Senate on BBL, it had hurdled some of the most difficult challenges in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Mascud said.

 However, he reminded every Bangsamoro not to neglect their roles and responsibilities in order to attain dignified peace in the homeland.

“After all everyone is aspiring for peace and national reconciliation,” Mascud said.

The SIGN-BBL is composed of 15 coalition of civil society organizations. Its first lobby mission in congress was November 19, 2017 and the group would continue their work even beyond the establishment of Bangsamoro government.