Romualdez urges ad hoc panel on BBL to consider inputs of Morales
• November 19, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
HOUSE independent bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez urged yesterday the ad hoc panel on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to consider the inputs of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who claimed that some provisions of the measure could weaken the anti-graft body’s constitutional investigative power.
Romualdez said that it is very important for Congress to consult all stakeholders in crafting the BBL aimed at forging peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). “Addressing all legal concerns would help ensure the success of peace talks with our Muslim brothers. It is imperative for the ad hoc panel to consult all the stakeholders. After all, it is the duty of Congress to ensure that BBL will pass legal questions before the Supreme Court (SC),” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), explained.
Responding to his call, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said that the ad hoc panel will consider the opposition of Morales. Like Romualdez, Belmonte said the ad hoc panel should include the position of Morales in crafting the BBL to ensure that it will stand all the constitutionality tests before the SC. “Her (Morales) concerns are worth considering by the panel in crafting the measure. Our intention is to ensure the constitutionality of the BBL,” said Belmonte.
1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a former secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), agreed with Belmonte, stressing Morales was once a member of the SC. “Coming from a former associate justice of the SC, it would be prudent for Congress to give the Ombudsman’s position very serious consideration,” said Bello, a member of the ad hoc panel and a former government peace negotiator with the communist rebel group.
Bello, a lawyer, also said that he does not see the opposition of Morales as a setback to the BBL, explaining it would help them to craft a much better and responsive BBL on the contrary. “I don’t think it is a setback. On the contrary, the Ombudsman’s position could serve as valuable input and guide in the BBL that will be drafted and approved by Congress,” Bello explained.
In a letter to Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the Bangsamoro ad hoc committee, Morales mentioned a provision in the BBL granting the Bangsamoro juridical entity of primary disciplinary authority on officials and employees there. “This diminishes the Ombudsman’s constitutional power to investigate any act or omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, as it divests of the Ombudsman’s power to investigate elective and appointive officials of the Bangsamoro government,” Morales’ letter read. “The Bangsamoro Basic Law should not be allowed to rise above the Constitution as the fundamental law of the land.”
Ombudsman Morales also opposed a provision allowing the Bangsamoro Parliament the authority to pass a law amending the three-year term of office.
“(The bill) proposes to grant the Bangsamoro Parliament the power to pass a law that provides for a term of office other than three years. The terms of office of members of the Parliament should be limited to three years to maintain the uniformity in the terms of office of elective officials in the central government,” the letter read.
She stressed the importance for Congress not to give the Bangsamoro Parliament the right to set the salaries of the Parliament members, explaining the existing nationwide salary grade levels should also cover the Bangsamoro government.