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Dureza: Let’s give BBL a chance

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By Francis T. Wakefield and Mario B. Casayuran

Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza urged officials in Jolo, Sulu to rally behind the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which is being pushed by the Duterte administration.

“Let’s give this (BBL) a chance to make it work,” he told a gathering of local officials inside the municipal hall of Jolo on Wednesday.

Dureza lauded the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s draft of the BBL as an inclusive and “more improved version” compared to the previous versions of the bill.

He was referring to the previous BBL which failed to pass congressional scrutiny due to issues in the Constitution.

The Presidential Adviser said his presence in this island province is to ensure that the local leaders and public will be clarified on the content of the BBL.

“Jolo is the model place. What Jolo will feel will resonate to other municipalities in Sulu,” he said, adding “We would like to hear from you if there are doubts on the BBL.”

“We are here to listen,” he said.

According to him, it is vital for the residents in the Autonomous Region to support the creation of the new Bangsamoro government. “Even if we sign an agreement and Congress passes the law, but if there’s no support from the people, nothing will happen,” he said.

“It should be acceptable to the people in order to address the historical injustices and give the Moros their right to self-determination,” he pointed out.

He said in order to achieve it, the current efforts of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is to simultaneously promote both the peace process and development.

Undersecretary Nabil Tan said President Duterte expanded the members of the BTC from 15 to 21 to ensure that the BBL is inclusive.

Tan said the passage of the BBL is crucial for putting back on track the peace agreement so it can be fully implemented, such as the decommissioning of the MILF’s combatants.

Fiscal powers

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto pressed the national government yesterday to submit data to support the “awesome’’ fiscal powers of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Recto thus requested Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, chairman of the Senate local government sub-committee undertaking public hearings on the BBL, to show “facts and figures that would bolster the financial feasibility” of the Bangsamoro self-ruled homeland.

The submission of these would clarify ambiguities in the provisions in the BBL bill and “hasten its passage in the Senate,’’ Recto said.

“Like any bill, if you scratch the surface of a provision of the BBL, you will find the price tag underneath,” he stressed.

Among the data Recto requested are “national revenue collections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since its creation to the present, as well as budget utilization of ARMM, including relevant financial statements, from the time it was created.”

Included in the request are “budget allocations and subsidies lodged in different national government agencies, earmarked and off-budget revenue sources.”

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