Bangsamoro Organic Law: Fulfillment of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people?

Jul. 26, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is now one signature away from becoming a law after the House of Representatives approved it on Tuesday.

The lower chamber, under the leadership of newly-installed Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, unanimously ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which reconciled the conflicting provisions of House Bill 6475 and Senate Bill 1717. Two hundred ninety-two voted in favor of the ratification, while no one objected.

The ratification came a day after the House’s leadership change stalled the chamber’s approval of the measure, supposedly in time for President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress at Batasang Pambansa, Quezon City on Monday.

The bicameral committee, headed by then-House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and incumbent Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, approved the report on July 18, the one-year anniversary of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Duterte and the leaders of Congress.

The Senate successfully ratified the bicam report last Monday.

The measure only needs the signature of the President to become a law. During his SONA, Duterte vowed to sign the BOL within 48 hours of submission of Congress.

Until its final day of deliberations, the conference panel has ensured that the measure recognizes the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and that it remains constitutional.

As defined in the ratified BOL, those who were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro.

Moreover, subject to a plebiscite, the BARMM shall be composed of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, 39 barangays in North Cotabato, and the Cities of Cotabato and Isabela.

The Bangsamoro Government shall have authority over the administration of justice, budgeting, economic zones, industrial centers, and free ports, inland waters, power sector investments, and public works and infrastructure in the region, among others. However, all powers, functions, and responsibilities of the Bangsamoro Government not granted by the Constitution or the national law shall be vested in the National Government.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region shall also enjoy fiscal autonomy, assuming control over its budget allocations in accordance with an annual appropriations law passed by the Parliament. It shall have the power to create its own sources of revenue and levy taxes, fees, and charges.

Taxes collected from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region shall be shared between the National Government (25 percent) and the Bangsamoro Government (75 percent). Apart from this, there shall be an annual block grant appropriated to the latter, which shall be the Bangsamoro Government’s share in the national internal revenue tax collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and collections of the Bureau of Customs.

The BOL also included provisions on sustainable development that ensures the protection and progress of the quality of life of the Bangsamoro people. The Parliament shall promote effective use of economic resources that facilitate human development and social justice.

Moreover, the Organic Law provides that the Bangsamoro Government shall receive funding support from the National Government to augment efforts for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region that shall attend to the needs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)/Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)/Bangsamoro Armed Forces members as well as the internally displaced persons, widows and orphans, and poverty-stricken communities.

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) shall be created as the interim government in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region throughout the transition period. This transition period shall conclude upon the dissolution of the BTA. (

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