PASAY CITY – “I was pleasantly surprised when I went over the four bills, precisely to look at possible constitutional infirmities, and I could not find any,” affirmed retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna during the 5th public hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) earlier today in the Senate.

The Subcommittee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law held a public hearing to discuss constitutionality, taxation, and mineral and natural resources of the proposed bill.

“To me, as far as constitutionality is concerned, everything is within the framework of the Constitution. The territory of the Bangsamoro is part of the Philippine territory,” Azcuna added.

As mandated in Art. III, Sec. 1 of the proposed Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) version of the BBL, the Bangsamoro remains part of the Philippine territory.

Azcuna, who is among the framers of the 1971 and 1987 Philippine Constitution, maintained the form of government provided in the BTC proposed law also complies with the present Constitution, because the governor is elected by the parliament, and the parliament itself is elected by the people.

Art. X, Sec. 18 of the 1987 Constitution states that “The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. 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.

The proposed BBL “fulfills both the requirements of elective and representative,” he said.

 Successful out-of-town hearings

Recently, the Senate conducted two public hearings in the cities of Cotabato and Marawi.

Senator Miguel Zubiri described it as successful, “When I say successful, 99.9% of the population of these areas are unanimous in support for the BBL. We are shocked to see thousands of people lining up the streets of Cotabato, we have people with flaglets, posters, streamers, women, children…”

The Senate initiated hearings on the BBL will continue next week in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi.

The proposed BBL, which was drafted by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, seeks genuine autonomy and is set to address the political marginalization and historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro. This is part of the 2014 peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. ###