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Commentary
May 7, 2015

Myths and Facts on the BBL

Published with permission from the OPAPP

MYTH # 1

That the Bangsamoro will be an independent state separate from the Philippines, with its inhabitants having a citizenship different from the rest of the Filipinos.

FACT

The Bangsamoro will not be an independent state. It will be an autonomous region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Bangsamoro will remain part of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines and its inhabitants are Filipino citizens.

Article III, Section 1 of the BBL (HB 4994/ SB 2408) provides that, “Territory refers to the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain above it. The Bangsamoro territory shall
remain a part of the Philippine.”

Honey Sumndad-Usman, Myths and Facts re BBL, BBL, May 7 2015

MYTH # 2

That the Bangsamoro identity is imposed on all inhabitants in the Bangsamoro areas irrespective of their socio-cultural and religious affinity and ancestry.

FACT

The proposed BBL provides that “those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and their descendants, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription.” Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro.

This means that a person has to claim himself or herself as Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro identity is not being imposed on anyone.

The proposed BBL also expressly states that “the freedom of choice of other
= indigenous peoples shall be respected.”

See Article II, Section 1 of the BBL (HB 4994/SB 2408).

MYTH # 3

That inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro entity requires only a local government unit (LGU) resolution or petition of 10% of the registered voters in the area.

FACT

The LGU resolution or the petition of 10 percent of qualified voters will only be for purposes of being included in the plebiscite. A favorable vote (i.e., majority of votes cast in a plebiscite) is still needed for an LGU to be included in the Bangsamoro territory upon its creation.

Other areas who may wish to join the Bangsamoro autonomous region after its creation need:

a) to be contiguous to the region;
b) a petition to hold a plebiscite for inclusion signed by at least 10 poercent of the registered votes in the area, and
c) a plebiscite where majority of the votes cast in the area and its mother
LGU favor inclusion.

The consent of the political unit/s directly affected, which is required by the 1987 Constitution and Local Government Code (R.A. No. 7160), will apply to the LGUs outside of the Bangsamoro.

MYTH # 4

That the Bangsamoro will be an Islamic state where Shari’ah law will be applied to all of its inhabitants, Moros, Christians and lumads alike.

FACT

First, there is nowhere in the proposed BBL that an Islamic State is mentioned, even more so to be established.

Second, the justice system in the Bangsamoro shall consist of (1) Shari’ah law which shall have supremacy and application over Muslims only; (2) the traditional or tribal justice system for the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro; (3) the local courts; and (4) alternative dispute resolution systems.

It is clear that Shari’ah law and the recourse to Shari’ah courts apply to Muslims ONLY.

MYTH # 5

That the Bangsamoro will have its own armed forces, foreign policy, and currency.

FACT

It is clearly stated in the proposed BBL that defense and external security, foreign policy, coinage and monetary policy, among others, are reserved powers of the Central Government. Therefore, the Bangsamoro will not have its own armed forces, foreign policy, and currency.

See Article V, Section 1 of the BBL.

MYTH # 6

That the Bangsamoro Government will receive an initial funding of about Php 70 — 75 billion on its first year of operation

FACT

The amount that will go directly to the Bangsamoro Government for the first year is as follows:

a) PHP 1 Billion transition fund which will go to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to enable it to carry out the requirements of transition from ARMM to the Bangsamoro (see Article XVI, Section 13, BBL);

b) PHP 7 Billion as Special Development Fund for purposes of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development (Article XIV, Section 2, BBL); and

c) The Annual Block Grant which will be approximately PHP 27 Billion Block Grant based on the formula in the proposed BBL (Article XII, Section 15- 20, BBL).

The formula is 4 percent of 60 percent (or 2.4%) of the National Interval Revenue collections three years prior to the current year. This means that the Annual Block Grant for 2016 will be based on the national internal revenue collection for 2013 which is estimated to be PHP 1.1 Trillion.

The LGUs in the Bangsamoro will continue to receive their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) just like the other LGUs in the country. The salaries of public school teachers and other public servants under it shall be shouldered by the Bangsamoro Government

MYTH # 7

That only Bangsamoros will be allowed to exploit, develop and utilize natural and other aquatic resources found in the Bangsamoro Waters and Zones of Joint Cooperation (ZJC).

FACT

Bangsamoro Waters are part of the territorial waters of the Philippines and are for the benefit of all Filipinos.

Preferential rights for local fishers are subject to regulation by the Bangsamoro Government and the respective LGUs with respect to their municipal waters.

The Zones of Joint Cooperation (ZJC) in the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf outside of the Bangsamoro Waters are not part of the Bangsamoro’s jurisdiction. It is only established for:

a) The protection of the traditional fishing grounds, b) Benefitting from the resources, and c) Interconnectivity of the islands and the mainland parts of a cohesive Bangsamoro political entity.

The ZJC remain available to all Filipino citizens but the preferential rights of the Bangsamoro people, other indigenous peoples in the adjoining provinces and resident fishers in the Bangsamoro over fishery, aquamarine, and other living resources in the ZJC shall be respected

MYTH # 8

That the proposed parliamentary form of government in the Bangsamoro is unconstitutional.

FACT

The parliamentary form of government in the Bangsamoro is possible under the Constitution.

The Constitution does not prescribe a particular form of government for autonomous regions. It only provides that “the organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units” (Article X, Section 18).

A parliamentary form of government satisfies these conditions. The legislative authority shall fall on the Bangsamoro Parliament composed of party representatives, district representatives, and reserved seats and sectoral representatives, to be chosen by the voters in the Bangsamoro. The head of the government, the Chief Minister, shall be elected by a majority vote of the Bangsamoro Parliament from among its members. The Chief Minister is thus still an elected official.

MYTH # 9

That the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will automatically replace the police in the Bangsamoro areas (former ARMM) where the Bangsamoro Police will be independent from the Philippine National Police (PNP)

FACT

The proposed BBL neither provides for automatic absorption or replacement of existing PNP officers and personnel by MILF combatants, nor does it put forward the establishment of a police force independent from the PNP. Under the proposed BBL, the Bangsamoro Police shall be primarily responsible for “law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro,” and it “shall be part of the Philippine National Police” (See Article XI on Public Order and Safety).

MYTH # 10

That the absence of a provision in the BBL on the disarmament of the MILF proves that the negotiation was flawed.

FACT

The Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsmoro includes, among others, the commitment of the MILF to decommission its forces and weapons, working side-by-side with the Independent Decommissioning Body.

The first phase or the ceremonial turn-over of high-powered and crew-served weapons of the MILF will occur even prior to the passage of the law. By the time the Bangsamoro Government is fully established, the full decommissioning of the MILF should have been accomplished. The process would be accompanied by the disbandment of private armed groups (PAGs) and other lawless elements, the socio-economic upliftment of previously conflict-afflicted communities, and various confidence-building measures

MYTH # 11

That the Government of the Philippines (GPH) should not be negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) because it does not represent the sentiments of the Muslim Filipinos.

FACT

The GPH negotiates with armed groups that are committed to providing pragmatic solutions in building peace in conflict-affected Muslim Mindanao. The MILF is by far and currently the largest revolutionary organization. When the peace talks resumed in 2011 under the administration of Pres. Aquino III, following the all-out-war under Pres. Estrada in 2000 and the MOA-AD debacle under Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo in 2008, the GPH and the MILF restarted the peace talks with the aim of finding lasting solution for peace in Mindanao.

Although the MILF acts as a principal party in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the proposed BBL does not represent alone the interests of the MILF as an organization. Rather, the proposed BBL aims to address the Moros’ grievances for social justice and self-determination, acknowledging these sentiments and bringing in solutions to address the Moro struggle with the end view of resolving economic and political marginalization. At the same time it protects the welfare and interests of all Filipino citizen-residents in the prospective Bangsamoro.

The BBL, which brings into legislative process the ideals and commitments espoused in the CAB signed on 27 March 2014, was crafted by the fifteen member-Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) representing the diverse perspectives of Moros, Christians and lumads in Muslim Mindanao.

Both the CAB and the draft BBL were informed by hundreds of consultations which include a variety of activities and meetings for small audiences, workshops and public fora. These were conducted separately and jointly by the GPH and MILF Peace Panels, as well as by various civil society groups and other stakeholders.

From 2010 until March 2015, the GPH Peace Panel has conducted 511 public consultations with different stakeholders such as the academe, civil society organizations (CSOs), business sector, religious groups, media, government agencies, local government units (LGUs), military, police, and the diplomatic community, among others.

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