BAGUIO CITY – A member of the Constitutional Committee (ConCom) created by President Rodrigo Duterte to review the possible amendments to the 1987 Constitution disclosed that parts of the approved Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that established the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) were actually copied by Mindanao lawmakers from the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill filed in the House of Representatives by Cordillera congressmen.
Commissioner Virgilio C. Bautista revealed that his counterparts from Mindanao were honest enough to admit to him that parts of the BOL that was passed by Congress were the same revisions contained in the proposed Cordillera autonomy bill that had been pending in the House committee on local government that is why Mindanao lawmakers are eagerly awaiting the crafting and filing of the proposed Organic Act for the establishment of the Autonomous Region in the Cordillera (ARC) so that they will return the for by voting for the immediate passage of the Cordillera autonomy bill.
He explained that the two provisions of the BOL which came from the Cordillera autonomy bill were those pertaining to the reversal of the sharing of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA for local governments wherein 6 percent will remain with the regional government and the 40 percent will accrue to the national coffers unlike in the present set up and on land ownership which was expanded by the BOL to include waters for them to own the oil that will be exploited within the BAMM’s jurisdiction.
“Our counterparts from Mindanao assured their support to the passage of our proposed autonomy law once submitted in Congress considering that they are now enjoying the fruits of self-governance. Wht we have to simply do is already get the provisions of the BOL, amend the same to suit the prevailing situation in the region so that we will not have the difficulty of being subjected to legal questions because there is already a precedent,” Commissioner Bautista stressed.
He pointed out that the bill is now in the hands of the Cordillera lawmakers on when to file whatever available version of the proposed autonomy law so that it will be deliberated by the concerned House committee for its eventual passage into law by early next year for us to catch up with the budgeting period to guarantee the inclusion of the budget for the regional government in the future appropriations of the national government.
According to him, it is still premature to make conclusions on the positions of politicians on autonomy because it has not yet undergone the required processes but what is important is that cordillera lawmakers will be united in pursuing the region’s quest for autonomy pursuant to their previous commitments in their pronouncements.
Bautista claimed that the growing number of autonomy advocates in the different parts of the region should serve as a motivation for the different Cordillera congressmen to file the proposed autonomy bill and work for its passage so that the Cordillera will not be overtaken by events that could eventually derail the region’s quest for self-determination as enshrined in the provisions of the 197 Constitution.
He revealed that autonomy advocates are waiting the realization of the commitment of the lawmakers to file the proposed autonomy bill before Congress goes on recess next month.
Illustration by Don Ray Ramos