COTABATO CITY—Senators Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Francis Tolentino answered Thursday some concerns circulating amid the 2nd day of interpellation for Senate Bill No. 2214 which seeks to extend Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) from 2022-2025.
Zubiri read the circulating message which says, Senator Tolentino allegedly “removed the representation of settler communities, who are Christians, from the transitory government, paving the way for absolute Muslim authority in the area”, and called it fake news.
“I know the good sponsor will never do that and he is now subject to viral messages and attacks. It is unfair, Mr. President. In his eagerness to show equitable distribution of positions in the interim—if we do extend the measure—he included settler communities, Christians, Lumads, women, non-government organizations, youth, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and Ulama,” Zubiri, also the Majority Floor Leader, said.
Similarly, Senator Tolentino said there was no intention to exclude such communities and pointed out he even mentioned “settler communities” several times at the beginning of the interpellation, adding that “they are definitely part of the reserved eight under the existing Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) or RA No. 11054.”
“There is no such thing as implied repeal, it is not favoured by law. So the near non-mention should not be equated to a repeal, because, otherwise, you would be reproducing the entire RA No. 11054,” Tolentino said.
Article IX, Sec.15 of BOL states that “The Bangsamoro Government shall ensure that settlers enjoy the rights guaranteed in this Organic Law. For this purpose, the Parliament shall create an office for settler communities to promote the welfare and address issues and concerns of settlers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”
Tolentino, who also chairs the senate Committee on Local Government, reiterated his stand on the bill that “the main policy reconsideration here is that we are not extending the term of the officials occupying the office.”
“What we are extending is the term of the institution or the structure – and that is the Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” he said.
“We recognize, reiterate, and acknowledge the prerogative of the President of the Philippines to exercise a paramount appointing power of authority to fill up positions. On the matter of holdover, we will leave that to the appointing authority,” he added.
However, Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon expressed that it is not under the discretion of the President whether an appointing official will continue to sit in the position in a holdover capacity.
Drilon believes this matter has to be determined by law, not upon the will of the appointing authority.
“By law, the term of office expires. I am not saying we should not allow a holdover. I am just saying that we should decide and provide it in the law, rather than say that the holdover will be to the discretion of appointing authority,” Drilon countered.
On the onset of interpellation, Zubiri moved a manifestation to limit and simplify the measure of Senate Bill No. 2214 into a one (1) page document by only amending Sec. 13 Art. 16 of RA No. 11054, removing 2022, changing it to 2025, and deleting both Sec. 2 and Sec. 3.
The appeal is still subject to debate on the next period of interpellation and debate. The 3rd day for the interpellation of the said bill will resume on Monday, May 31. (Bangsamoro Information Office)