Fil-Ams air concerns over BBL at New York town hall

NEW YORK – When it comes to the Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao, the BBL remains a hot button issue for some Filipino Americans in the Big Apple.

NY Filipino community leader Sonny Lerum said, “My concern is this — that once they have authority to form themselves as one, they might separate from the national government. How can we control that?”

“The establishment of the autonomous region is not an invitation for them to become a separate state. That is the spirit of the constitutional provision and we have built in provisions there,” Former Philippine Chief of Justice Hilario Davide Jr. said, “Providing exactly for the safeguards that they can never become a state.”

Davide recently held a town hall meeting at the Philippine Consulate in New York to answer questions about the controversial law.

The former envoy to the UN is a member of the Peace Council formed by President Benigno Aquino III to study the BBL.

“Despite some concerns, that they are really for the BBL, in the sense that that is the only foundational basis for real autonomy, and for peace, justice and prosperity in Mindanao,’ he said.

Davide says a substitute BBL bill is now being deliberated in the Philippine Congress.

BBL lays the ground for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Region comprised of predominantly Muslim provinces such as Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

If passed by Congress, a plebiscite will follow to allow people of affected areas to determine which territories will belong to the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

And if a province votes against it, it will not be part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

“The substitute bill is no longer known as BBL because the committee substituted the Bangsamoro Basic Law into what they call the Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. They use now the word region.”

While the Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region bill has made progress in Congress, Bangsamoro Native Potri Ranka Manis says prejudice and biases against Muslims like her are the source of misconceptions about this law.

“Alisin yun sa pag-iisip, so ang kailangan yan education, i-educate ang mga Pilipino, both na Muslims and Christians have to be educated that we’re not supposed to be divided because of religion,” she said.

Fil-Am lawyer Merit Salud said, “One thing is made clear by the chief justice — that the president under the BBL has not surrendered his power or authority to supervise and control the autonomous region.”

Salud says that in itself is good news for Filipino Americans on the East Coast who are concerned about the safety and security of the Philippines when the Basic Law Autonomous Region in Mindanao is passed.

You can contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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  • Mario
    26 August 2015 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    ISIS recruits from PH comes from Basilan, what will happen when they will come back, become an automatic ISIS commander in Mindanao. ISIS, sells $1Million/day income to China from oil field confiscated in Iraq. Saudi makes $1Billion/day income from oil. If they want to established separate “Republic of Mindanao” with the available funding from Middle East we will loose a nation. Bring back the early 1960 formula which is give the power back to the corrupt politicians as Governor, Congressman, at least we will not loose a nation.Don’t allow autonomous government. If Ninoy gave Sabah to the Malaysian, don’t allow Pnoy to give Mindanao to form a separate country.