MANILA, Philippines – Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg wants the House of Representatives to exclude his province as well as its capital Puerto Princesa from the new autonomous region in Mindanao that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is seeking to create.
“The people of Palawan vehemently oppose the inclusion of the province of Palawan and the city of Puerto Princesa in the Bangsamoro entity,” Abueg said in filing House Resolution 2130.
Abueg said the people of Palawan have consistently resisted the inclusion of the province in any entity, even the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in four previous plebiscites. He said the negative votes cast were more than 85 percent.
The House adjourned on Thursday with the BBL still under fierce debate in plenary owing to what lawmakers said were its contentious provisions. Proponents said they aim to pass the draft by October.
The full title of the BBL is “An Act providing for the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, repealing for the purpose Republic Act No. 9054, entitled An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” and RA No. 6734, entitled “An Act providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and for other purposes.”
Abueg, in his resolution, said the “recent virtual inclusion of Palawan, particularly in Article II, Section 1 in the latest working draft of the BBL adopted by the House of Representatives, merits urgent attention.”
Abueg said that during the committee deliberations on the BBL, he had moved for deletion of the phrase “including Palawan” in the definition provision of “Bangsamoro people” in the draft.
He said in previous deliberations on the BBL, Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal categorically stated that the province of Palawan was not mentioned in the provisions of the Bangsamoro bill.
He said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles also assured lawmakers during committee deliberations of Palawan’s non-inclusion in the Bangsamoro region.
“Considering the recent developments on the BBL, it is surprising when particular provisions which have already been amended during the previous deliberations, were reflected in the latest working draft of the Bangsamoro bill,” Abueg said.
Local officials of Zamboanga City are also against the inclusion of the city in the BBL.
Zamboanga Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar underscored the spirit of the residents when they defended the city, flag and nation when a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attempted to declare independence during the 2013 siege.
“Our defense of the city, the flag and the nation in 2013 has made our commemoration of Philippine Independence more significant and real,” Salazar told the crowd commemorating yesterday’s Independence Day.
Salazar said the city residents continue to remember those who died in the 2013 siege as modern heroes as they face another challenge from inclusion in the Bangsamoro region.
“We are for peace, a just and inclusive one. Zamboanga City should never be part of the Bangsamoro now or ever. We, as a people, should continue to be united,” Salazar said. – With Roel Pareño
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