Press Release
May 31, 2018

Statement of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri on the approval of the BBL Senate version

I'm extremely honored and elated to have passed the BBL last night that would lead to a long and just peace between government and the MILF. After almost 30 hours of interpellations, and marathon hearings in 5 ARMM provinces. I am confident that the Senate version is compliant with the Constitution and withstand scrutiny by the Supreme Court. We have weeded out provisions that earlier muddled our intentions to improve the lot of fellow Filipinos in Muslim Mindanao.

We survived walking on a tightrope, balancing the search for peace, right to self-determination, governance and democracy and. And, we did it crossing party lines. Even at this early stage, the BBL is a legacy for all the efforts to bring about peace and progress in lands which most experienced poverty, inequity and war in the Philippines.

When we finally put ink to paper, erstwhile rebels will lay down arms; that is the biggest promise we are moving to achieve with the BBL.

Block grant, share in taxes: Under fiscal autonomy, the block grant, was spelled out to be 5% of the net collections of the BIR and Bureau of Customs, down from 6%. It was easily the most contentious provision because it appeared that the National Government was subsidizing the Bangsamoro government at the disadvantage of Filipino taxpayers outside of the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction. Sen. Recto's proposed formula on block grants included a provisions on the creation of internal auditing body to enhance transparency in governance and public accountability.

Special Development Fund: The fund shall be a programmatic fund meaning the Bangsamoro Government Parliament should submit to the Budget and Management and Finance departments a program of expenditures according to a development plan. It was clarified that the Bangsamoro shall be treated on equal footing by the Department of Budget & Management and Bureau of Local Government Finance-DOF which reviews the expenditures plan of local governments. It will not be automatically appropriated. From P10 Billion annually for 10 years, the SDF shall be at P5 Billion a year for 10 years.

Share on national taxes collected from the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction: From the original BTC proposal of 75%-25% sharing in favour of the Bangsamoro government, the sharing was placed at 50%-50%. This satisfied the call to treat the Bangsamoro at par with other local governments and the basic principle that a country's natural resources belong to the State.

Core territory: The Senate voted to hold only one (1) plebiscite and deleted the proposed periodic plebiscites to be held repeatedly every five (5) years for 15 years. Discussions in the Plenary stressed that the proposed BBL contains only opt-in provisions, and none on opting-out. If the BBL is defeated, the current law on the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao shall remain over the existing ARMM territorial jurisdiction.

Peace efforts: Provisions on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and the Bangsamoro Parliament were refined to make sure extensive representation of Muslim Filipinos, Indigenous peoples and Christians and peoples of other faiths are implemented truthfully. A ban on political dynasties retained the original language of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; this could stem the tide of rido that had shed so much blood in Mindanao.

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