Fariñas stands by constitutionality of draft Bangsamoro law


MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said he can attest to the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law, which the bicameral conference committee finally completed on Wednesday, July 18.

The lawyer-turned-Ilocos Norte 1st District representative was asked if he stands by the constitutionality of the bill he helped draft at the bicam.

“Yes, definitely, definitely, because we were very careful. Precisely, we had several problems along the way because we could not grant everything they (Bangsamoro Transition Commission) want. In fairness to them, they accepted everything,” Fariñas told reporters late Wednesday evening.

A graduate of the Ateneo Law School, Fariñas landed in the top 8 of the 1987 Bar examinations. At the start of the bicam meetings last week, he said the body must ensure the version they would come up with would pass the test of constitutionality

After 6 gruelling days of debates, the bicam members approved the final version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), now officially named as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.  

The measure seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and replace it with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which would have greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament, and justice system.

The proposed region would be composed of the current ARMM – Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur – pending a regional plebiscite.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are set to ratify the bill on Monday morning, July 23. President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the measure into law before he delivers his 3rd State of the Nation Address at 4 pm.

The deliberations were not easy for the lawmakers. Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Khalid Dimaporo already said he would question an unconstitutional BBL before the Supreme Court (SC)

He strongly opposes the inclusion of 6 towns of his province and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. (READ: Duterte ends BBL impasse: Mother LGUs' vote needed for inclusion in Bangsamoro)

But Fariñas welcomed any moves to challenge the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law before the highest court in the land.

“Definitely, there will be [opposition to it] They have the right, and we want them to bring it [before the SC] so it would pass the test of constitutionality. Mas maganda (It would be better that way),” he said. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.