Sulu's 6 talking points on the BBL
These talking points are excerpts from Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur M. Tan's statement during the IAG-led forum in Zamboanga City on April 29, 2015. The vice governor called on the peace panels and Congress to clarify the issues that surround some provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
1■ The proposed creation of regional waters (Bangsamoro waters) at the expense of changing and slicing off the Sulu Sea and the attached historic reference to it;
2■ The proposal to appoint a Wali as the titular head of the Bangsamoro government and the historical reference for such a position when the fact remains that Wali was never mentioned in the annals, at least as far as Sulu is concerned. In a parliamentary system, in the example of Malaysia, in a state, the Head of State is the Sultan, and the Head of Government is the Chief Minister;
3■ Sulu is predominantly composed of the Tausug ethnic group. The other provinces of the ARMM are composed as well of other ethnic groups, each with its own strengths and unique characteristics. The Maranaos are predominant in Lanao del Sur, the Maguindanaons in Maguindanao, the Samals in Tawi-tawi, and the Yakans in Basilan. Should not the ethnic groups be adequately and fairly represented in the peace process rather than focus only on the Maranaos or the Maguindanaons? This way, other ethnic groups will not feel excluded. Exclusion could only fan future dissent from the excluded groups that could lead to recourse outside of the peace process. Should not the proposed BBL envision a region that unites the multi-ethnic groups? There can be unity in diversity;
4■ Another cause of concern for the local government officials of the LGUs of the region is what powers and privileges shall remain with the constituent LGUs of the proposed Bangsamoro government? Under Section 7, Article VI of the proposed BBL, the authority to regulate the affairs of the LGUs is guaranteed only within the limits of the Basic Law. On the other hand, the privileges that the LGUs now enjoy maybe altered, modified or reformed by the Bangsamoro Parliament;
Even the shares of the constituent LGUs in the 75% share of the Bangsamoro government in the taxes, fees, and charges collected in their jurisdiction by the Central Government are to be determined by the Bangsamoro Parliament (Section 12, Article XII, BBL). The power of the Bangsamoro Parliament to alter, modify or fix could be exercised to unduly limit the privileges and, thus, defeat the principle of autonomy on the part of the constituent LGUs;
5■ Another concern is: how are the governor, mayors and other local officials of the constituent LGUs be elected under the Bangsamoro Government? Even the relationship between the Bangsamoro Government and the constituent LGUs appears to be undefined in the proposed BBL;
6■ Is the matter of the Philippines’ claim to Sabah not deserving attention of the BBL and the negotiators?