BBL ‘good model’ to see if federalism works: Zubiri

By Azer Parrocha, Philippine New Agency

January 19, 2018

MANILA — The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be a “good model” to see if federalism works, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday.

“The sentiment in the House (of Representatives) is to start with federalism before BBL. Me, I want to start with BBL before charter change for federalism because the stakes are high. This will dictate whether we will have war or peace in Mindanao,” said Zubiri, chair of the Senate subcommittee on the BBL, in a Kapihan press conference.

He described the BBL as “the final promise that government has to fulfill to be able to comply with the 1972 Tripoli Peace Agreement”.

Although he is in favor of charter change, he emphasized that “the future of the republic” would depend on the BBL.

“We want peace in Mindanao and I think this is the best way to achieve it. This is a long-term political solution that we feel will provide long-lasting peace for our people,” Zubiri said.

He earlier said that he expects to have the BBL passed in the Senate on third and final reading before it adjourns its session in March.

“If we pass this in the Senate this March, and hopefully my colleagues in the House will also be able to pass a same version. I think during the break in April, we can have bicameral hearings there and ratify when we come back in May so the President (Rodrigo Duterte) can mention in his SONA (State of the Nation Address) that there is a BBL,” he said.

He explained that the BBL would address the lack of representation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which comprises the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

“In our new version of the BBL, which will amend the ARMM law, we’re giving more representation as well as to the IP (indigenous peoples),” Zubiri said.

Since it would also have a parliamentary set up, the public can choose to take a “hold no-confidence vote” to remove their governor as opposed to having to wait every three years for a reelection.

He expressed belief that the BBL would also allow their people to stop relying on the central government.

“Under the old service, the ARMM is heavily reliant on the central government. Funds come from the national government. The national government dictates their programs and projects. But under this step, they have nobody else to blame but themselves,” Zubiri said.

This news is originally posted at http://www.canadianinquirer.net/2018/01/19/bbl-good-model-to-see-if-federalism-works-zubiri/

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