Sunday Mar, 26 2023 01:37:47 AM

IAG on BBL legislation (HB 5811 and SB 2894)

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 20:02 PM Thu Sep 24, 2015
Institute for Autonomy and Governance

Statement of the

Institute for Autonomy and Governance

on the Legislation of the Basic Law for
the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (H.B. 5811 and S.B. 2894) The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG),
an independent public policy center devoted to the development of autonomy and
good governance for Mindanao peace, makes public our analysis and
recommendations on the pending legislation of the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro
Autonomous Region in the House of Representatives (HB 5811) and the Senate (SB 2894).
Our position is informed by countless experts’ discussions, researches and
consultations we have undertaken on Muslim Mindanao autonomy since IAG began
its work in 2001.

Four (4) Key Considerations

First , peace agreements between the
Philippine government and the Moro revolutionary fronts from the Tripoli
Agreement in 1976, Final Peace Agreement in 1996 to the Comprehensive Agreement
on the Bangsamoro(CAB) in 2014 are good roadmaps for the evolving
development of meaningful autonomy for peace in Muslim Mindanao. Over-all, they
establish and address weaknesses in autonomous arrangements.

/The CAB, in particular, lays down the foundation
for meaningful political autonomy namely a clear delineation of powers between
the national and regional government and a regional parliamentary system. It
strengthens fiscal autonomy through a block grant system and a degree of
control and management of the region’s natural resources. It provides a
pluralistic justice system that recognizes the diverse peoples in the region
and promotes law and order through normalization and policing roadmap. It
mandates a system of continuing adjustments and improvement of
intergovernmental relations through a multi-level grievance resolution

Second , at this time, the full implementation
of peace agreements with the Moro fronts is not possible under the country’s
prevailing constitutional, legal and political environment. The weight of legal
opinion is to the effect that a number of provisions in the CAB and the proposed
BBL are of doubtful legality and constitutionality. Without public support and
legitimacy in the country’s laws and the constitution, the CAB and the BBL
cannot be implemented meaningfully and the gains and successes so far achieved
are in danger of being further undermined.

Third , more powers and resources in policy
and law for Muslim Mindanao will not instantly result in successful
autonomy.The ARMM has key powers under its Organic Law that to date
are not implemented primarily because of weaknesses in the national bureaucracy
to effect real devolution and the timidity and lack of capacity of the
autonomous government to assert its powers as a matter of law. Among these
unimplemented policies are the establishment of the regional police force, Shariah
Law, regional indigenous people’s law, local government system and local
elections.Thus, it is absolutely essential that the transfer of
powers to the autonomous government be in step with increased capacities as
well as legal and bureaucratic reforms in the national and regional

Fourth , the implementation of all peace
agreements and legislation of any Basic Law must be inclusive. An autonomy
arrangement franchised” by a group or individual is bound to fail.Processes
and structures moving forward must involve and supported by all key
stakeholders including minority groups.It is imperative that the
implementation of the CAB must seriously consider the enforcement of existing
peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

State of BBL Legislation

The legislation of the BBL is effectively in a
state of ‘suspended animation’.The House and the Senate, invoking
their plenary powers and obligation to insure that the final version of the
basic law is in accord with the Philippine constitution, have introduced
substitute bills that depart in varying degrees from the proposed BBL.Senate
Bill 2894 in particular is questioned as having provisions that are less than
the current ARMM Organic Law. The remaining time for the passage of the Basic
Law is getting limited and there is the real possibility that the national
Budget Law and the 2016 election campaign will soon, sideline it.Many
believe that there is no sufficient time anymore to pass a Basic Law under the
Aquino administration.The MILF has publicly committed to continue
the peace process and advocate for the legislation of the BBL that is compliant
to the CAB beyond the current administration.

All parties and stakeholders must now accept the
hard reality that unless the Philippine constitution is amended to accommodate
the terms of the Tripoli Agreement, the FPA and the CAB and/or to shift the
country from a unitary to a federal system of government, existing peace
agreements cannot be fully implemented.It is the obligation of the
Moro revolutionary fronts and government to move the peace process forward from
a realistic and doable framework.

Our Calland Working Autonomy as a Framework

A realistic and doable framework is one that
insures a working autonomy and a good transition from the ARMM to the
Bangsamoro.We identify five (5) pillars of autonomy in H.B. 5811 and S.B.
2894 that are big leaps” for autonomy in policy and practice. These are the
seeds” for the growth of meaningful Bangsamoro autonomy and self-governance in
step with successful transition and legal and constitutional reforms.

First, we urge Congress to focus on the
legislation of the five (5) pillarsand

1. Delienation of powers between the national and
regional Bangsamoro government

2. Regional Parliamentary system with an electoral
system that provides equitable allocation for district and party

3. Control of strategic resources by the Bangsamoro
government or at least co-management arrangement between the national and
regional governments

4. Block grant and

5. Justice system and Bangsamoro Safety andamp

These five (5) pillars are already provided for in
H.B. 5811 and S.B. 2894.The executive branch of government, the
Senate and the House, the MILF and key stakeholders are strongly urged to
devote all remaining energy and time to reach a consensus on the five (5)
pillars above.IAG is of the view that a BLBAR with these five (5)
pillars already provides a good foundation for the growth of meaningful
Bangsamoro autonomy.

Secondly, we urge policymakers to legislate a realistic,
sound and effective transition to the Bangsamoro.A successful
transition can only be achieved when it results in policies, processes and
structures to effectively implement the five (5) pillars.The
transition must provide sufficient time, resources and mechanisms to raise the
institutional and human resources capacities of the future Bangsamoro
government to build and administer strong autonomous governance
infrastructures. Special governmental fiscal processes must be adopted during
the transition period. The transition must lay down accountability and good
governance mechanisms at all levels of government.

It must be noted that a transitional mechanism is
already provided in H.B. 5811 and S.B. 2894.We urge Congress and
key stakeholders to reconcile and develop a transition mechanism following the
criteria above.

Concluding Remarks

stakeholders must recognize that peace agreements are aspirational and roadmap
documents and the political deals therein can only be meaningfully implemented
in phases and in step with reforms of national and regional political
institutions, laws and processes. Political and legal reforms require more than
reconfiguring the relationship between Manila and the envisioned Bangsamoro
political entity.Equally and perhaps more crucial is building a
democratic, efficient and working autonomous Bangsamoro political institutions
that will lead the region to peace and prosperity.
have a rare opportunity in the CAB, past peace agreements and in H.B. 5811 and
S.B. 2894 to evolve strong public policies for Bangsamoro autonomy.The
substitute bills pending in Congress may not embody all and some provisions may
be contrary to what is provided for under the peace agreements.At
some point, key stakeholders and the Moro fronts will have to deal with the
question of implementation of peace agreements. But from the perspective of
building a strong autonomy in addressing the Bangsamoro question, the five (5)
pillars already provided H.B. 5811 and S.B. 2894 when refined and strengthened
are more than substantial to evolve a meaningful Moro
a BBL is legislated now or in the next administration, the process will be
hounded and weigh down by the same constitutional, legal and political
issues.It is to the best interest of the Mindanao peace process
that we build on incremental gains now than later.

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