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Bicam okays Bangsamoro Organic Law

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2018

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The 28-member of the bicameral conference committee approved on Wednesday night (July 18) the reconciled version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was renamed, Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

This was after the bicameral panel concluded its debates on the most contentious provisions of the House and Senate versions on the region’s territorial jurisdiction.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which would have a regional government, a parliament, and justice system as well as a greater fiscal autonomy that would allow an independent budget management. Up to P70B in block grant would be given to the Bangsamoro Region from the national government.

Awaiting a regional plebiscite, the proposed region would be composed of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

It also seeks to include six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro, only if the province and their municipalities vote for inclusion.

Meanwhile, chartered cities of Cotabato and Isabela would also be included, also pending a plebiscite.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri accepted the Bangsamoro bill on the part of the Senate followed by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas for the Lower House. After both legislators signaled the acceptance of the measure, celebrations erupted in the room.

“They can now also convince the extremist yung mga nagiisip na mga manggugulo doon. Sila na mismo ang MILF, MNLF ngayon ay partners ng gobyerno in convincing population not to join extremism,” said Zubiri.

“This may be not a perfect law, but this is good to start with,” exclaimed MILF Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday (July 19) said President Rodrigo Duterte can sign the BOL “anytime” as soon as he receives the consolidated version.

President Duterte may also opt to sign the proposed measure into law hours before his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo

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Comelec: Martial law favorable to BOL plebiscite, 2019 elections in Mindanao

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Philippine army man the checkpoint at the entrance of Maguindanao province, 11 May 2013. Security is tightened as political tension rises two days before the Philippine midterm election in the province. Maguindanao is among the election hot spots tagged by Comelec.

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – On January 21 next year, The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold the plebiscite in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in Isabela City in Basilan, and in Cotabato City.

The plebiscite will determine if residents are in favor of the passage of the Bangasamoro Organic Law that will govern the proposed Bangsamoro region.

According to Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez, a second plebiscite will be held in February in 19 barangays that wish to be included in the new Bangsamoro region.

“Ang unang plebisito ang dedesisyunan niya kung mararatify ba ang BOL o hindi. Ang susunod na eleksyon, ang susunod na plebisito para doon sa mga lugar na gustong sumali kung matutuloy ang pagsali nila sa Bangsamoro,” Jimenez explained in an interview with the program ‘Get It Straight with Daniel Razon’ on Tuesday (December 11).

Jimenez said the poll body has already printed 2.8 million ballots for the plebiscite which they have started distributing in areas where the plebiscite will be held.

Former Commissioner Samira Gutuc of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) hopes that the plebiscite will be a success.

She expressed concern of the possible consequences should the BOL fails citing the impending petition against its passage in the Supreme Court (SC).

“Baka the Supreme Court would look at the petition against the BOL favorably at baka hindi maiakyat ang batas BOL sa implimentasyon. Pagka walang BOL at walang boto ng ‘yes’ ngayong January, ay baka balik tayo sa ARMM at magkakagulo ang Mindanao ulit,” Gutuc explained.

 On the other hand, the former commissioner believes that the recent approval to extend the martial law in Mindanao may not be favorable to the conduct of the plebiscite and the midterm elections in 2019.

“Martial Law will not help a free and shared democratic debate over BOL,” she argued.

Some opposition personalities who are running in next year’s elections agreed with Gutuc on the matter.

“Sa buong panahon na nasa ilalim ng martial law ang Mindanao, hindi umangat ang kabuhayan ng mga kababyan natin doon,” former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said.

“Ang ikinakatakot natin dito, bumababa yung batayan sa pagdedeklara ng Martial Law kaya pwedeng ikasa na yung lahat ng elemento para magdeklara ng isang nationwide Martial Law,” former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay noted.

“Kapag sinabi nating Martial Law, that is an emergency power. May emergency pa ba sa Mindanao?” argued Atty Jose Manuel Diokno, a senatorial candidate in 2019.

Despite the oppositions, the Comelec and the Palace believe that the extension of Martial rule in Mindanao will benefit both the conduct of the plebiscite and the 2019 midterm elections.

“From the point of view of election administration nakabuti pa actually ang martial law. Ang presensya ng military, it pacifies the area and it minimizes yung mga attack yung mga decedent forces,” Director Jimenez said.

I do not see any relation, what is the relation. In fact, martial law is even acceptable to people of Mindanao precisely because the security is kept. If there will be a plebiscite then people who would want to do something to derail the plebiscite, They will think twice because there is martial law. It’s even helpful,” Presidential Spokesperon Salvador Panelo concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Bicam approves Rice Tariffication Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

(file photo)

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Bicameral Conference Committee has approved the rice tariffication bill on Thursday (November 22).

Under the proposal, import restrictions will be lifted on rice importation along with the creation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Rice Fund).

According to the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Senator Cynthia Villar, the proposed measure will benefit ordinary farmers.

This is through excesses in rice tariff revenues and from the P10-B fixed appropriation on the rice fund that will serve as direct financial assistance to rice farmers.

“If we are successful in the competitive enhancement, katulad ng seeds can increase their harvest from 4 metric tons per hectare to 6 that 50 % increased in productivity we’re rice sufficient,” Villar explained.

The bill is expected to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Bicam tackles Lifetime Cellphone Number Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

 

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee has started deliberations on the proposed measure seeking to provide mobile phone users with a lifetime personal cellphone number.

Senate Bill 636 or the proposed Lifetime Cellphone Number Act will give phone users the option of keeping their existing mobile numbers even as they switch networks or mode of subscription services from prepaid to postpaid.

Authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the bill will give mobile users the option to choose a cheaper and more efficient network service provider.

The measure will also prohibit telecommunications companies from option of exclusivity or locking mobile devices to their respective network.

Once approved at the bicam committee level, the Congress will ratify the bill for submission to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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