The Bangsamoro parliamentary system

"This is the first time the Philippines will be experimenting with such a system of government at any level."


The Bangsamoro Organic Law that hopefully will be ratified in several provinces, cities, and areas in the next couple of weeks provides for an interesting, and in my view positive, political innovation. This is the establishment of a parliamentary system as the form of government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. I am confident that the new system will be good for the Bangsamoro and its people and for the Philippines as well. In fact, the latter might just want to do the same thing when the time is ripe for charter change.

Article VII of the BOL outlines the government structure of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government with the powers of the Bangsamoro Government vested in the Parliament which shall set policies and, legislate on matters within its authority.

The Parliament elects the Chief Minister, who shall serve as the chief executive of the BARMM. He or she must be a member of parliament and is elected on the first session day of the Parliament by a majority vote of all its members. He or she must be at least 25 years of age and a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

Executive power shall be exercised by the Cabinet headed by the Chief Minister who shall be assisted by two Deputy Chief Ministers. Aside from being the head of the Bangsamoro Government, the Chief Minister has the power of appointment, to issue executive orders, formulate a platform of government subject to the approval by the Parliament. He shall represent the Bangsamoro government in the affairs of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The Parliament, aside from enacting laws, also has the power and authority to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, enact laws to augment items in the general appropriation law, discipline its members, and be consulted in matters affecting the environment. It shall pass the annual appropriations law.

The Parliament is to be composed of eighty (80) members, unless increased by the Congress of the Philippines. The seats in the Parliament are classified into representatives of political parties which constitute one-half of its membership, forty percent (40%) coming from Parliamentary districts and the remaining ten (10%) percent are reserved seats and sectoral representatives. However, election of reserved seats for non-Moro indigenous peoples shall adhere to customary laws and indigenous processes.

The term of office for members of the Parliament, who are at least 25 years old, able to read and write and a registered voter of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, shall be three (3) years with a maximum limit of three (3) consecutive terms. Upon assumption, they are required to disclose their business and financial interests. They are likewise prohibited from engaging in any business activity or any other activity that would be in conflict with their official functions. The prohibitions for national public officers under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Public Officers and Employees shall also be made applicable to the members of the Parliament. 

In case of vacancy of a proportional representation seat, the party to which that seat belongs shall fill the vacancy. If the vacancy belongs to an unaffiliated member occurring at least one year before the expiration of the term of office, there will be a special election conducted to fill up such vacancy.

Upon a vote of no confidence of at least 2/3 of all the members of the Parliament against the Government of the day, the Chief Minister, within 72 hours of such vote shall inform the Wali (see below) to dissolve the Parliament and call for a new Parliamentary election. In no case shall the Wali countermand the advice of the Chief Minister.

Article VIII defines the office of the Wali who is the ceremonial head of the Bangsamoro Government. Aside from other qualifications, the Wali must be a resident of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for at least fifteen (15) years. In selecting a Wali, the Parliament issues a resolution reflecting its consensus from a list submitted by the Council of Elders. The Wali shall only perform ceremonial duties such as the opening of the Parliament, among others. The Wali may be removed if he fails to dissolve the Parliament after a vote of no confidence; if he commits a crime involving moral turpitude; failure to perform the duties of a Wali; and such other grounds as the Parliament may provide.

This is the first time the Philippines will be experimenting with a parliamentary system of government at any level. This is good because in my view the presidential system (which emphasizes executive power) has not served the country well and we must try other forms.

Legally and constitutionally, a parliamentary system for an autonomous government can be justified because Article X of the Constitution only requires that there be a Legislative and Executive Branch and that they be elected. The office of the Chief Minister and the Bangsamoro Parliament are still distinct and the Chief Minister is an elected member of Parliament.

The proportional representation concept is embodied in the BOL. This is great as it will probably result in development and maturing of authentic political parties. It will also mean that governance will require coalitions of shared interests as no one group is expected to dominate. While I would have wanted an anti-dynasty provision in the BOL, a party-based system might just work to address the problem of political dynasties.

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Topics: Bangsamoro Organic Law , Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao , Government , Congress of the Philippines
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