The many shades of gray in the Bangsamoro Basic Law

The Senate President ProTempore Senator Ralph Recto said there are “many shades of gray” in the Bangsamoro Basic Law. “In legislation, it must be black-and-white so there will be no room for multiple interpretations.”

“If the law is vague, then conflicts will arise during implementation, the resolution of which may be left for the courts to settle,” Recto said. “Ayaw naman natin ng isang batas na puputaktihin ng mga kaso sa korte o namumuro ng TROs.”

“When we propose revisions, it is out of the desire to improve the bill and not to impair.” Another reason why Congress should improve the law, Recto explained, “is to increase its chances of being approved by the people in the plebiscite to be called for its ratification.”

Of the “many shades of gray” of the BBL, what needs to be cured of its ambivalence is the powers of the Bangsamoro Police, Recto said. “Its authority should be sharply defined.”

Another “contentious” issue, Recto said, is in the area of “financing the peace.”

“The BBL is basically an appropriations bill. It creates financial obligations in the tens of billions of pesos. It binds the national government, and ultimately taxpayers, to allocate large sums of money every year,” Recto said.

“On the first year alone of the Bangsamoro establishment, the projected minimum cost is P75 billion,” Recto said, citing official estimates on the fiscal impact of the creation of the Moro sub-state in Mindanao. A big chunk of this is in the form of a “block grant, ” which in 2016, according to testimonies of government officials, will be around P27 billion, Recto explained.