House minority solons want provisions on flag, anthem out of BBL bill

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By Charmaine A. Tadalan

HOUSE Minority leaders on Thursday set conditions on approving the final Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be reconciled by the Bicameral Conference Committee in July.

“I supported the passage of the BBL, but they must take note: we must remove some elements from the approved version,” Deputy Minority leader Jose L. Atienza, Jr. said in a press briefing.

Mr. Atienza was referring to the provision allowing the Bangsamoro region to have its own flag and anthem.

Meron ba namang area na may sariling (Is there even an area that has its own) national anthem beside the Philippine National Anthem? I’m quite sensitive to that. I really believe in the constitutional mandate that there should only be one Philippine national anthem,” he said, adding that if the bicameral version still contains said provisions he will change his vote.

Article 2, Section 3 of House Bill 6475 grants the Bangsamoro Parliament to adopt an official flag, emblem and anthem of the Bangsamoro, which Mr. Atienza said could open the region to possible secession.

“That’s a prescription of a serious national disintegration, magkakaroon tayo ng mga (there will be a) secession movement,” he said.

The same provision is present in the Senate version, but on the condition that the Bangsamoro flag will always be displayed alongside the Philippine flag. It was also specified the Bangsamoro can have a hymn, which should always be sung with the National Anthem.

Minority leader Danilo E. Suarez also disagreed with some provisions of the BBL, particularly on the proposed block grant, which he said is “counterproductive.”

Alam mo kapag ginawa mo yan, the Cordillera, gagayahin ‘yan (You know, if you do that, the Cordillera [Autonomous Region] might follow). That will not stop other areas (from coming) up with their own,” Mr. Suarez said.

A provision in both versions of the bill states the National Government will allocate an annual block grant to the Bangsamoro government, which will amount to 5% of the net National Internal Revenue collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs.

The Bicameral Conference Committee is set to hold meetings from July 9 to 13 as it targets to submit the reconciled bill in time for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address on July 23.