Friday, November 6, 2015

LACK OF QUORUM IS “LAMEST SORT OF EXCUSE FOR NOT PASSING THE BBL”: BUSINESS GROUPS




LACK OF QUORUM IS “LAMEST SORT OF EXCUSE FOR NOT PASSING THE BBL”: BUSINESS GROUPS

Business organizations in the country described lack of quorum in congress as “lamest sort of excuse” for not passing the Bansamoro Basic Law (BBL) as they called on lawmakers to act on the “swift passage of an acceptable and meaningful Bangsamoro Law, InterAksyon.com TV 5 reported.


During a press conference on Tuesday, November 3 in Makati City, the group led by the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club (MBC), Mindanao Business Council, Bangsamoro Business Club, and American Chamber of Commerce urged legislators to pass the BBL to fight poverty and push investments in Mindanao.

MBC chairman Ramon Del Rosario, Jr. said that there was the concern that there are vast opportunities in Mindanao that deserve development, but, for development to take place, peace should prevail.

Del Rosario appealed, in particular to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. to use their leadership to nudge lawmakers to work on the expeditious passage of the bill.

For his part, Mindanao Business Council chairman Vicente Lao also acknowledged that poverty was the biggest problem in the Bangsamoro territory.

"Sometimes you cannot blame these people why they take up arms. Because sometimes that's the only way for the guy to put food on the table for his family. In an area where the absence of opportunity for employment is present, you can really not blame them if they look for another way to survive. And sometimes in areas like that, the only way to survive is to join the rebel movement," he explained.

"We need investors to go into the area. We need employment opportunities to be opened up in the area, and we need good governance in the area. All that cannot happen in the absence of peace," he stressed.

Bangsamoro Business Club President Mohamad Omar Pasigan noted that agricultural, industrial, and mineral-based businesses could not thrive without the BBL. "They would have to go out in the field. Going to those places, many of those places are under the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) now," he said.

While business owners could talk to the MILF for assurance that their investments would be protected, like what was done for the La Frutera banana plantation in Maguindanao, this could not always be guaranteed, Pasigan said.

He said the Bangsamoro Business Club had been pitching the region's natural resources to foreign investors in Malaysia and the Middle East, with the expectation that the BBL would be passed soon.

But because of the delay, the foreign businessmen were now taking a "wait and see policy," Pasigan said.

In their statement during the press conference, the business leaders said that the BBL must include the following considerations at the very least:

•BBL must not diminish what was already given to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Expanded ARMM Organic Act should form the baseline from where an acceptable and meaningful BBL is to be crafted.

•(A)t the very least, the original core territory of the Bangsamoro should be retained.

•To allow the blossoming of genuine political parties and the exercise of true democracy, the original composition of the Bangsamoro Parliament of reserving a greater number of seats to political party representatives must be preserved.

•Given that the poorest and least developed provinces are found in the Bangsamoro, the grant of full fiscal autonomy is essential. Thus, guided by the aim to guarantee the Bangsamoro economy's stability and sustainability through the effective and responsible utilization of its resources, the Bangsamoro must have power over inland waters and 'strategic minerals' within its jurisdiction.

•As a complement to other measures that will assure peace and security in the region, the Shari'ah Court System must be further strengthened through pertinent provisions in the BBL. (Source: InterAksyon.com TV5)





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