House passed BBL, 50-17 vote

By , on May 21, 2015

Photo by Robert Viñas / PCOO
Photo by Robert Viñas / PCOO

MANILA — Voting 50-17, with one abstention, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Debates on the proposed bill, which seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao, will now be moved to the plenary following its approval.

The bill was approved despite earlier discussion over a last-minute clause that could dramatically expand Bangsamoro’s territory through plebiscites in the fifth or 10th year after the bill’s passage.

House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said he was alarmed by the reference of the said clause to the Tripoli Agreement which may mean that the provinces who are against joining the ARMM could still be subject for future petitions for a plebiscite.

“Did you notice the reference to the Tripoli Agreement?” he told reporters.

“Maybe people don’t know what this means: The provinces that they thought were not included, and who thought there was nothing to fear in the BBL, these congressmen who represent these provinces, may not realize that they may be included,” he added.

The clause he was referring was under Article 3, Section 3 of the bill which states that “any local government unit (LGU) or geographical area outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro, but which are contiguous to any of the component units of the Bangsamoro and within the area of autonomy identified in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, may opt to be part of the Bangsamoro by filing a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters of the interested LGU or geographical area.”

Zamora also lamented that the Congressmen who voted for the passage of the bill may be unaware of the future consequences of the bill.

“Do the congressmen voting so readily for these provisions understand that they are now in play?” Zamora said.

“Whether you voted against inclusion in previous plebiscites, you’re now back in play,” he added.

Despite this, most lawmakers believe that the passage of the bill will help give better opportunities for the Muslim sector.

“Our vote this afternoon is a historic vote to address centuries of inherited disadvantages inflicted on our Muslim brothers and sisters … an affirmative action to correct centuries of neglect and injustices inflicted on the Muslim sector,” BBL committee chair, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.