As the plenary deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) opened on Wednesday, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri appealed to his colleagues at the Senate to pass the measure.
In his sponsorship speech, Zubiri said that the BBL—or the Senate Bill No. 1717 under Committee Report No. 255—will give the “greatest latitude if not full autonomy” to the Bangsamoro government that will be established.
The proposed measure will also give the Moro people the capability “to assert their political and economic self-determination and pursue development programs for their people according to their peculiar historical, cultural, religious and national identities.”
As he introduced the bill before the plenary, Zubiri, who is also the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on BBL, urged the members of the Senate to “seize the opportunity” to correct the “historical injustice” to the Moro people.
“I do not want to sound like a warmonger, but if we do not heed this clamor for change in the Bangsamoro, God forbid, restlessness among the armed groups in Mindanao could spiral out of control,” said Zubiri.
“The possibility of another Marawi siege would not be far from the horizon. The country can no longer afford more bloodshed. Our generation has suffered long enough from the clutches of poverty, from the evils of war. Let not our children and their future suffer some more,” he added.
Among the highlights of the BBL is a provision which states that “reserved powers are matters over which authority and jurisdiction are retained by the Central Government.”
“The list of reserved powers would pertain to powers that are the attribute of a sovereign country and are important in maintaining its independence and ability to relate to other countries such as foreign policy, defense, citizenship and others,” Zubiri said.
The BBL also also includes an anti-dynasty provision, according to the senator.
Zubiri, however, noted that the anti-dynasty provision only covers the Bangsamoro government and would exclude mayors and governors because they are “still awaiting a national anti-dynasty law.”
In a press briefing, Zubiri said what they passed as a committee report is “not 100-percent BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission) version” of the BBL. BTC include representatives from the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“It’s 96-percent BTC,” the senator said. “All the important provisions are there. If we added [other provisions], it was just to strengthen.”
Zubiri expects the Senate to pass the proposed BBL by March 21.