Bangsamoro Organic Law is a good “test case” for federalism, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said Thursday as he stressed that the country should not rush the shift to federalism.
“Magandang experimental ang Bangsamoro Organic Act. Dito makikita natin kaya hindi natin kailangan apurahin ang federalism. Makikita natin dito sa Bangasamoro Organic Act kung maganda ang [federalism] dahil federal type ito,” Sotto said.
(The Bangsamoro Organic Act is a good experimental experience. This is why we should not rush federalism. We can see through the Bangsamoro Organic Act if federalism is good.)
Sotto suggested observing the performance of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for at least two years first before pushing for federalism.
Congress is expected to ratify the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Monday. Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte will sign the proposed law as soon as he receives the consolidated version before his third State of the Nation Address (Sona).
The Senate president also said that majority of the senators are not riding the charter change or cha-cha express.
“I think majority of the senators ay hindi nagmamadali dito. Tingin ko dapat kunin muna natin ‘yung sense ng kababayan natin dito. The sense is hindi naintindihan ng kababayan natin kung paano magwo-work ang federalism,” he said.
(I think majority of the senators are not in a hurry. I think we need to have a sense of the public on this. The sense is that they don’t understand how federalism will work.)
A survey recently conducted by Pulse Asia showed that 62 percent said they were not in favor of federalism while 28 percent were in favor, while 67 percent were against current moves to change the 1987 Constitution.
Asked if the request of the President will have “weight,” Sotto said such presidential request cannot be used to convince the majority of senators to support charter change.
“We will treat it as a presidential request, but there so many issues to hurdle. Magpapasa kami ng (We will pass a) joint resolution calling for constitutional assembly, we should be voting separately,” he said.
He noted that Duterte has not made any personal request to any senators yet.
When asked if it will be harder for the President to push for federalism in his last two years in office, Sotto said it will not be hard if the people can see that the Bangsamoro implementation is good.
“Kung makikita nilang maganda, bakit sila mahihirapan? Kahit sino pa ang umupong presidente sa susunod kung talagang maganda,” he said.
(If they can see that it’s good, why will they have a hard time? Whoever the next president is won’t have a hard time if it’s really good.) /je
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