Bangsamoro Basic Law: the road map for financial viability
- Blog Content
- Hits: 2439
The work for the Bangsamoro Basic Law has begun. The 15-person Transition Commission is the one tasked to produce a draft of the Basic Law that the President would certify as priority bill for Congress to legislate.
Drafting the Basic Law is an important task. In fact, it would be the indicator whether that new political entity would be inclusive, participative and accountable to the many and differing peoples in the proposed core areas that would compose the Bangsamoro.
The Basic Law once passed by Congress and signed into law by the President would still undergo yet an important process. It will be submitted to the constituents of the areas identified as belonging to the Bangsamoro territory for ratification in a plebiscite called for the purpose. Only the areas that ratify the Basic law would compose the Bangsamoro. Once ratified, the Basic Law would supersede the present Organic Act of the ARMM or RA 9054. The new Basic Law will serve as the ‘CHARTER’ by which the Bangsamoro shall be governed.
The new ‘Charter’ would be crucial since it is NOT only for the MILF but for ALL the constituents in the area of the new autonomy. It would spell out not only the relations between the National Government and the Bangsamoro but also the relations between and among the stakeholders within the said territory.
Moreover, the Basic Law would define the elements that remain ‘amorphous’ in the Framework Agreement and in the Annexes. Citing few ‘substantial’ elements, these are the ‘asymmetrical’ relations between the national government and the Bangsamoro, the ‘ministerial form’ of governance, the new electoral laws that would elect the leadership in said ministerial government within the Bangsamoro and the detailed power and wealth sharing schemes between the national government and the Bangsamoro.
This early stage, the constituents of the core areas have expressed their good will to get involved in the various public consultations, in the crafting of the draft Basic Law. This is very positive development since their participation would contribute to the wider ownership of the draft Basic Law else it becomes an EXCLUSIVE domain of a particular interest or group. The Basic Law would need wider and greater support by the constituents within the contemplated areas for inclusion in the Bangsamoro. In fact, this wider ownership among the constituents would be the real guarantee for any sustainability of the Bangsamoro.
We are just seeing the beginning of the journey towards a ‘path’ that aims to be ‘better’ and ‘greater’ than the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The new Basic Law and the Bangsamoro Government including the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority that would replace the ARMM post ratification aim to deliver better public services & greater accountability, better delivery of basic services and greater participation of the constituents, , and better economic development that create jobs and offer greater opportunities for ALL within the Bangsamoro.
No doubt, the Transition Commission has a tough task to win the hearts and minds not only of the members of the Philippine Congress to legislate a progressive, equitable and MORE empowering Basic Law but also of the wider constituency in the Bangsamoro that the new political entity is for ALL.
The present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the former two Regional Autonomous Governments (RAG IX and RAG XII) are saddled by a near total financial dependency on the national government. This dependency is at the root of ‘national control’ over the region that claims ‘autonomy’. It is no accident that people label the former two RAGs and the present ARMM as an ‘oxymoron’. No political entity can claim real autonomy or ‘self-determination’ when it is totally dependent on national government for almost everything including its maintenance and other operating expenses.
The new Basic Law should spell out clearly the road map for financial viability of any autonomous governance. Sans its own financial viability, the emerging Bangsamoro can only exist and function on the basis of the ‘generosity’ and ‘good will’ of the national government. The tragedy of any experiment in autonomy in this country is the fact that the ‘rise and fall’ or the ‘failure and success’ of the experiment lies on the ‘generosity’ and ‘good will’ of whoever is the actual ‘tenant’ in Malacañang.
Follow Fr. Eliseo Mercado on Twitter @junmeromi.