The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law’s version in the bicameral conference committee can withstand judicial scrutiny but it lacks a provision that would ban political dynasty in Bangsamoro areas, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.
The draft law seeks to establish the Bangsamoro region to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but Drilon expressed doubts whether it can effectively address poverty and governance issues in Mindanao in the absence of the anti-dynasty provision.
Drilon said he expected that petitions questioning the constitutionality of the law or some of its provisions will be brought to the Supreme Court.
He said the provision establishing a parliamentary form of government in the Bangsamoro region will be questioned before the court.
But Drilon said, “that is constitutional and we can defend it.”
The senator is confident that the draft law will not suffer the same fate as the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.
Drilon is not optimistic that the draft BBL can solve poverty in the region.
“I have my doubts whether poverty can be addressed because we failed to include an anti-dynasty provision,” said Drilon. “I’m not very optimistic that BBL can effectively address issues of good governance.”
Drilon cited a study by the Ateneo School of Government showing four provinces in ARMM as among the poorest in the country, emphasizing that it clearly shows the relation between poverty and political dynasty.
“I believe that until we succeed in banning political dynasty, ARMM’s economy will not improve,” Drilon said.
Drilon recalled that he tried to propose an anti-dynasty provision during the Senate deliberation that is similar to the anti-dynasty provision in the SK Reform Act. However, Drilon’s proposal was rejected by the committee’s chairman, Senate Majority Miguel Zubiri, who instead proposed a provision that would ban dynasty only in the parliament, thereby allowing dynastic practices in the local government to continue.
In the bicam, Drilon said even that “toothless” provision was opposed by the House panel. “Out of disgust, I did not fight for it. I said, ‘bahala kayo.’ Anyway, it’s a weak provision.”
Drilon, however, remains hopeful that the issue of rampant political dynasty in the ARMM will be addressed once the anti-political dynasty bill hurdles Congress.
Drilon also refuted concerns that the BBL was diluted because it did not follow the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
“Some were saying that this BBL is weak simply because we did not follow CAB. That is not true,” Drilon said.
In terms of power, Drilon said that the Bangsamoro region will enjoy 60 specific powers—some of them are not present in the current ARMM.
“I was the one who proposed that we devolved around 60 specific powers to the Bangsamoro region. That is why in terms of government power, I can guarantee that the Bangsamoro is stronger than the current ARMM,” Drilon said.
The Bangsamoro will also get around P60 to P70 billion in block grants from the national government that is equivalent to the five percent of the national taxes, Drilon said.
This is on top of the Internal Revenue Allotment that is annually downloaded to provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. The Bangsamoro region, under the draft BBL, is allowed to collect local taxes, he added.