Former President, Now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has filed her own version for a Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would institutionalize a peace agreement sealed with muslim secessionist group by her successor and chief critis, former President NoyNoy Aquino.
Arroyo’s congressional office explained this is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call in his last State of the Nation Address “to achieve just and lasting peace for a unified nation” including those in conflict-affected areas.
Through her House Bill No. 6121 called the “Basic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region”, Arroyo expressed hope that the new law that will replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao “truly reflects the aspirations of our Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the indigenous brethren, representation to Indigenous Peoples, women, the sultanates, and other key stakeholders.”
“During the State of the Nation Address last 24 July 2017, the President mentioned that in order to achieve just and lasting peace for a unified nation, the government is pursuing an inclusive peace process, promoting the participation of all stakeholders, including those in conflict-affected areas. The President further stated that efforts have been made to promote inclusiveness in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) by expanding its membership through Executive Order No. 8 which was signed in November 2016,” she pointed out.
Under her proposal, a new political subdivision shall be created called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) which shall be composed of the present geographical area of ARMM, the cities of Cotabato and Isabela and any province or city that are contiguous and outside the geographical area of the present ARMM where there is resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the registered voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of a plebiscite of the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro geographical area.
While the BAR remains part of the Philippines, its Bangsamoro Regional Government (BRG), which will have a parliamentary system, will be given the right to self-governance that is free to pursue its economic, social and cultural development. It shall, however, respect and adhere to all international treaties and agreements binding upon the National Government.
The BRG shall be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament headed by the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister shall be elected by a majority vote of all members of the parliament. The Chief Minister shall appoint a Deputy Minister who shall also come from the Parliament.
The Parliament shall be composed of at least sixty (60) members who are representatives of political parties elected through a system of proportional representation, those elected from single member districts and to reserved/sectoral seats to represent key sectors including women, indigenous people, labor sector, youth and sultanates in the BRG. Seats will also be reserved to Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples pursuant to their customary laws.
The term of office of members of Parliament shall be three (3) years. They shall serve for not more than three (3) consecutive terms. A member of Parliament must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of the election, able to read and write, a registered voter in the BAR, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than three years immediately preceding the day of the election.
Arroyo further stated that the relationship between the National Government and the BRG is asymmetric where the autonomous regions are granted more powers, and with less intervention from the National Government as compared to other territorial and political subdivisions.
“The National Government and the Bangsamoro Regional Government shall be guided by the principles of accepted norms of good governance and parity of esteem. In exercising its sovereignty, the National Government shall give due consideration to the distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures of all the inhabitants in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” she stated.
The President of the Philippines shall nevertheless exercise general supervision over the BRG to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed.
The National Government shall also retain and exercise the following reserved powers – national defense, and internal and external security; foreign affairs; currency and policy direction in the areas of money, credit and banking; citizenship and naturalization; immigration and deportation; customs and tariff laws; common market and global trade: intellectual property rights; supervision over banks and non-banks financial institutions under the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); free ports and all the powers, functions and responsibilities not granted by the 1987 Philippine Constitution or by law to the autonomous regions.
The National Government and BRG shall, on the other hand, exercise shared powers within BAR the following matters – social security and pensions; quarantine; pollution control; human rights and humanitarian protection and promotion; auditing; civil service; coastguard; customs and tariff; administration of justice; funding for the maintenance of national roads, bridges, and irrigation system; disaster risk reduction and management; non-Moro ancestral domains/ancestral lands of the Non-Moro indigenous peoples.
Among the exclusive or devolved powers given to BRG are the following – economic and cultural exchange; trade, industry, investment, enterprises and regulation of businesses; labor and employment; barter trade and countertrade with Indonesia, Malaysia or Brunei, subject to existing laws; economic zones and industrial centers; tourism; creation of sources of revenue; budgeting;receive grants and donations; education and skills training; culture and language; sports and recreation; housing and human settlements, among others.
To establish a mechanism that shall coordinate and harmonize the relationship between the National Government and the BRG, Arroyo proposed for the creation of an intergovernmental relations body to resolve issues on intergovernmental relations.
The BRG shall also have a Council of Leaders composed of the Chief Minister, as chairman, Provincial Governors, Mayors of chartered cities within the BAR, and representatives from the Non-Moro indigenous communities, women, settler communities, sultanates and other sectors.
The Council shall advise the Chief Minister on matters of governance in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. The representation of the Non-Moro indigenous communities shall be pursuant to their customary laws and indigenous processes.