A Mindanaoan lawmaker on Wednesday said the inclusion of six towns of Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in the proposed Bangsamoro region was ‘illegal’ even as he vowed to question what he claimed as an “unconstitutional” Bangsamoro Basic Law at the Supreme Court.
“If I do not get what I want and I feel that this is unconstitutional, I will challenge it in the Supreme Court, period,” Khalid Dimaporo said. “If, us in the province, this is not just me, us in the province, feel that there will be questions of constitutionality, then we will challenge it in the Supreme Court,” Dimaporo said.
This developed as majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said the congressional leaders would raise the issue with the President.
While the President’s wish was to give up the six towns and 39 barangays in favor of the Bangsamoro, Fariñas said Congress cannot act on it as this is involves a constitutional question.
“The President wants to just give it up but our hands are tied because the Constitution prohibits it,” Fariñas said.
Dimaporo and his father, Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, have opposed the inclusion of six municipalities of their province and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in the proposed Bangsamoro region. The Dimaporos are both members of the bicameral conference committee on the BBL.
Dimaporo said these municipalities and barangays should not be included in the envisioned Bangsamoro region as “there was no proof that they voted [for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao].”
The six Lanao del Norte municipalities and 39 North Cotabato villages are currently part of the ARMM. The six Lanao del Norte municipalities are Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangcal while the 39 North Cotabato are Dunguan; Lower Mingading; Tapodoc in Aleosan town; Manarapan and Nasapian in Carmen town; Nanga-an, Simbuhay, and Sanggadong in Kabacan town; Damatulan, Kadigasan, Kadingilan, Kapinpilan, Kudarangan, Central Labas, Malingao, Mudseng, Nabalawag, Olandang, Sambulawan and Tugal in Midsayap town; Lower Baguer, Balacayon, Buricain, Datu Binasing, Kadingilan, Matilac, Patot, and Lower Pangangkalan in Pigkawayan town; Bagoinged, Balatican, S. Balong, S. Balongis, Batulawan, Buliok, Gokotan, Kabasalan, Lagunde, Macabual, and Macasendeg in Pikit town.
“We asked the Comelec [Commission on Elections] if they can provide official records. [The Comelec said]we cannot because all the records have been burned,” Dimaporo said.
“So if anybody challenges this before the court, to question if these six municipalities and 39 barangays indeed voted for their inclusion in the ARMM, there’s no official record that can be produced,” Dimaporo said.
The Senate version of the BBL as embodied in Senate Bill 1717, authored by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, among others, provides that the 39 villages and six municipalities shall automatically be included in the Bangsamoro region once their residents vote in favor of their inclusion through a plebiscite.
While House Bill 6475 of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, or the BBL’s version of the Lower House, sets conditions for the inclusion of certain areas in the proposed Bangsamoro region. These are: if the village and town residents voted in favor of the inclusion and if the majority in the entire provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato also vote for their inclusion.