MANILA – The new Bangsamoro region will be having a parliamentary form of government as stated in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“We laud the two chambers of Congress for retaining the provisions establishing a parliamentary form of government in the region, seeing as it is crucial to the reforms we hope to put in place in the Bangsamoro,” government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a Philippine Star report.
While retaining the original provision in the draft BBL, the Senate made some structural changes, including the designation of seats in the Bangsamoro legislature.
Originally, the Bangsamoro parliament was to have 60 seats, allocating 24 of these to the parliamentary districts, 30 to the party-list groups and 6 to the non-Moro indigenous peoples, settler communities and women.
In the Senate’s version of the parliamentary system, 40 of the 60 seats were reserved for the parliamentary districts, 8 to the party-list groups and 12 to the non-Moro indigenous peoples, settler communities and women.
“Lopsided representation in favor of district representatives, presumably elected on the basis of plurality or highest number of votes, will perpetuate personalistic politics, clan dynasties and weak political parties,” Ferrer said.
“On the other hand, we believe that allocating more seats to regional political parties and sectoral representatives would encourage the practice and development of a political culture in the region that is based on broad-based political parties with defined programs of governance competing in free and fair elections,” she added.
Ferrer hoped that the Senate would resort to the original allocation of seats and ensure that political parties and sectoral representatives would have more seats for a more participatory government.
“Our goal with this parliamentary form of government as envisioned in the original BBL is to ensure inclusive and more participatory governance. Allocating a large majority of the seats of the Bangsamoro parliament for parties and marginalized sectors will encourage politics based on principles and not personalities. It will empower the different segments of the people in the Bangsamoro,” she said.
Senators have then asked for more time to review the substitute BBL, delaying floor debates on the proposed bill.
Improve BBL, don’t hinder it
Knowing that some ‘esteemed lawmakers’ were still against the passage of the BBL, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III urged them to help improve it instead.
“Instead of asking: ‘How can I improve the BBL so that it may effectively address the grievances of our countrymen,’ it appears they ask, ‘How can I stop or block the passage of this bill,” Aquino said.
“If there are 10 steps between us, steps we must take to become closer to one another, and they have already taken nine and a half steps – would you still deprive them of that last half-step,” he added.